Monday, August 13, 2012

Re: Kleiman/Loury diavlog comment

Over at bloggingheads, a poster named Mark Kleiman writes the following about voter ID laws, to which my responses are shown.
Sorry, but you're simply wrong.
I'm not convinced that the parent post is written by Kleiman and not a troll trying to make him look bad, but I'll bite anyway. In fact, parent post is incorrect on every count, and here are the links to show it.
States don't require "voter ID." They require a driver's license to vote.
A list of Voter ID requirements by State, maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures, can be found here. It indicates that in all States which require photo ID, a non-driver's-license form of State-issued photo ID is available and acceptable. In several cases, this form of non-driver's-license photo ID is explicitly called "voter ID." Pennsylvania and Indiana also accept some expired driver's licenses and state IDs. Under firmly established precedent having nothing to do with poll taxes, a State could not restrict voting to those with a driver's license, because capability to drive, which is required to obtain a driver's license, is not related to the state interest in securing the integrity of the vote. (See the linked case below for a discussion of the applicable precedents.)
And they charge for a driver's license.
A resource maintained by the Brennan Center for Justice, which can be found here, indicates that in all states which have passed voter ID laws recently, provision is made for issuance of a qualifying ID without charge. Some States additionally provide a birth certificate without charge for voter ID purposes.
Now, you and I agree that such a system amounts to a poll tax. But the 5-4 Republican majority on the Supreme Court didn't see it that way. How surprising!
The Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of voter ID in Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd., 128 S. Ct. 1610 (2008). That case involved an Indiana law which required voters to present one of a number of types of government-issued photo IDs, among which was a free State ID, or else sign an affidavit that obtaining a photo ID was a financial or religious hardship. The law also allowed a provisional ballot to be cast and then counted if the voter subsequently produced ID within a several-day window.

The law's challengers were unable to produce an individual who was prevented from voting, as so the case proceeded as a facial, rather than as-applied, challenge.

None of the Justices found that the law was an unconstitutional poll tax, but they disagreed about whether the law ran afoul of the Court's broader voting rights jurisprudence grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment. A Six-Justice majority, with Justice Stevens writing the principle opinion, found that the requirement was constitutional. Among the facts it cited were that over 99% of Indiana residents already possessed the required photo IDs.

In Crawford, majority of the Justices who are still sitting signed on to opinions which indicated that a more burdensome law would be unconstitutional.

* * * *

Of note also: Kleiman says that 25% of African Americans lack valid photo ID.

That statistic comes from a study conducted by the Brennan Center. That study's validity has been questioned. But assuming it is accurate, it should be qualified in two ways. 1) The study concerns photo ID meeting legal requirements, including being current (i.e. up-to-date address) and unexpired; but non-current and expired IDs can generally be used to obtain valid ID. 2) The study concerns residents, not registered voters; in fact many of those who lack valid ID were not registered to vote to begin with.

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