The Supreme Court hearing argument yesterday in the Indiana voter ID case. The transcript is here.
I haven’t read it, but the consensus appears to be that the law will be upheld, although it sounds like Justice Kennedy has concerns about the burdens on those who have no IDs.
Dahlia Lithwick sums up the liberal position on the issue neatly:
The real problem with Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is that the whole case is a dance of the seven veils. By which I mean that voter-identification laws are phony ways to solve pretend problems, while today’s challenge to those laws is thin on evidence of real voters who’ve suffered real harms. A chimera doing battle with a fantasy. Oh, goody.
According to Dahlia, there’s no real evidence that there is a big problem with voter fraud — but, there’s also no real evidence that there is a big problem with genuine voters being inconvenienced by voter ID laws. Of course, to Dahlia (and most liberals), the mere possibility of the latter (the law deterring voters) is enough to be very concerned about, while the possibility of voter fraud is essentially something to mock.
Simon at Stubborn Facts points out how neatly Justice Ginsburg falls for phony assumptions underlying the liberal point of view — namely, the position that anyone who showed up to vote without an ID must have been a genuine voter who was disenfranchised by the law:
JUSTICE GINSBURG: … Now, there is something in the briefs that happened after this case was instituted, but we know from Marion County that there were 34 people who were not able to have a vote counted. And of those 34, only two ended up qualifying after the fact. So, we know that in that one particular county, most of the people who were unable to satisfy the requirement initially ended up not satisfying it.
Is that — I mean that’s not hypothetical. That’s real. But it does give you some confirmation that it isn’t mere speculation that there are going to be many people who will not — whose vote will not count.
MR. FISHER: With respect, Your Honor, for all we know, those may have been fraudulent ballots. It may well be the case that all 32 did not show up to validate their votes are fraudulent.
So there’s at least two important false assumptions being bandied around in this case: that a person is disenfranchised merely by being unable to meet the requirements to vote rather than being unable to meet the requirements to vote and wanting to vote, and that any evidence of people being unable to produce ID to support provisional ballots are indicative that the voter ID law is disenfranchising legitimate voters rather than preventing fraudulent votes.
See also Simon’s post here.
Al Gore said every vote must be counted and every vote must count. But if the voter is not legally eligible to vote, I don’t want the vote to count.
Voter fraud is not some chimerical phantom that never occurs in America; look at the Nixon-JFK election if you have any doubt about how significant it can be. The fact that we don’t have concrete proof that it’s a huge problem doesn’t mean it isn’t.
P.S. Let me throw some mud in the eyes of my conservative friends now. As far as I know, we don’t have any evidence that Diebold machines have disenfranchised voters in actual elections. But I have seen evidence that concerns me about the potential that they could be misused on a wide scale. (At least in September 2006, they could be opened with a hotel minibar key.) Is this potential something to be concerned about? I say that it is.
But it’s interesting. I am concerned about getting it right regardless of who benefits. I feel lonely on that score. The issue of Diebold machines, like that of voter ID laws, tends to end up as a partisan issue — with Republicans worried about voters without IDs but blissfully untroubled by Diebold machines — and Democrats terrified that someone might have to work a little to get an ID and concerned about Diebold, but not caring a whit about the fact that people are showing up to vote who shouldn’t be.
It’s all about politics, folks. And it shouldn’t be. Every vote should not count. Every legal vote should count.