Democrats often claim that voter identification laws, including the Indiana statute currently under review by the Supreme Court, lead to disenfranchisement of poor people, racial minorities and senior citizens. However, this claim doesn’t sit well with most Americans, according to a new Rasmussen Reports/The Washington Times/Fox 5 survey, and the argument also doesn’t comport with the facts.
Two-thirds of those surveyed, including most Americans from racial and ethnic minority groups and older Americans, believe that would-be voters should be required to show photo identification. Such a basic, commonsense measure protects against voter fraud and certainly passes constitutional muster, which is why we agree with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which upheld the 2005 law. U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker agreed when she sustained the Indiana law in a 2006 ruling against the Indiana Democratic Party and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana: “Despite apocalyptic assertions of wholesale voter disenfranchisement, plaintiffs have produced not a single piece of evidence of any identifiable registered voter who would be prevented from voting.”
When asked by pollsters, “Should voters be required to prove their identity by showing a government issued photo ID before they’re allowed to vote?” 67 percent of responders answered “yes,” while just 23 percent said “no.” Fifty-eight percent of blacks, 69 percent of whites and 66 percent of other ethnic or racial minorities said voter ID laws are reasonable. Among women age 40 and over, 70 percent said they support the idea of requiring a photo ID, and 66 percent of men 40 and older agree.
Indiana’s voter ID law grants numerous exceptions to the photo ID requirement, such as waivers for voters who object to being photographed for religious reasons and impoverished voters who cannot afford to pay for non-driver’s ID, which the state gives for free to poor people, and senior citizens are able to vote through absentee ballot. This diverse range of exceptions have likely helped increase voter turnout, which was up by two percentage points during the 2006 elections — especially among Democrats — over the 2002 midterm elections.
The evidence is overwhelming, both in terms of public support and data (or lack thereof): Indiana’s voter ID law is sound.