Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Monday’s 6-3 Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s voter-identification law has unhinged Democrats and their allies on the political left. Within hours of the ruling, the ACLU was wringing its hands about the judgment of the court that requires someone to produce photo identification in order to vote was not unconstitutional. Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, complained that it was “a body blow to what America stands for — equal access to the polls.” But a careful reading of the opinions of the six justices who voted to uphold the Indiana law shows this assertion to be nonsense.

The judgment of the court — that requiring someone to produce photo identification in order to vote is not unconstitutional — was announced by Justice John Paul Stevens, one of its most liberal members. Justice Stevens wrote an opinion, in which Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy concurred, that eviscerates the arguments made against Indiana’s reasonable efforts to combat vote fraud. Although Indiana has not experienced a problem with in-person voter impersonation at polling places, there have been huge problems with such fraud in other states. Indiana has a legitimate interest in purging what has become “an unusually inflated list of registered voters,” who have reportedly included “the names of thousands of persons who had either moved, died or were not eligible to vote because they had been convicted of felonies.” The need to prevent voter fraud, Justice Stevens wrote, “does provide a neutral and nondiscriminatory reason supporting the State’s decision to require photo identification.”

A commission co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker reported in 2005 that since October 2002, the Justice Department had launched more than 180 investigations into election fraud, which included instances of multiple voting and providing false information about felon status. In Milwaukee, investigators “said they found clear evidence of fraud, including more than 200 cases of felons voting illegally and more than 100 people who voted twice.” The Carter-Baker panel noted one estimate that were more than 181,000 dead people listed on voter rolls in six swing states in the 2004 election.

Vote fraud debases the electoral process by cancelling out the votes of people who obey the law. Those who seek to whitewash such behavior are effectively working to negate the votes of law-abiding citizens.

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