29 April 2008

Voter ID For Free!

The Supreme Court has upheld Indiana's requirement that voters present a valid state ID before they can exercise their franchise. This resolved an issue that has become unreasonably partisan. For some reason, Republicans and only Republicans seem to be concerned about the danger of voter fraud; they drafted the Indiana law. Democrats and only Democrats seem concerned about the possibility of vote suppression; they opposed the law. There seems to be a subtext about the inability or reluctance of some Democratic constituencies to acquire ID, but I recall that many conservatives and libertarians like to live "off the grid" and would have their own aversion to having ID. Moreover, under the American Bipolarchy, it seems unlikely that Democrats would never try to suppress Republican votes, or that Republicans would never try to vote fraudulently. People who don't believe these possibilities have simply swallowed their own propaganda.

My one reservation about the ruling was only partially relieved when I learned that Indiana charges nothing for a non-driver's ID. Had it been otherwise, the Court would have issued an unconstitutional ruling, because they would have authorized a poll tax, which is forbidden according to the 24th Amendment. While the Court determined that the Indiana law doesn't unreasonably burden citizens, the ruling may unreasonably burden states, since any state that wants to adopt a similar rule is going to have to make a free ID option available. In New York, you have to pay for a non-driver's ID; that will have to change if the state ever wants to impose an ID law. For that matter, since most people are going to present their driver's licenses instead of getting a separate ID just for the purpose of voting, won't those licenses have to be free if they become a prerequisite for voting? I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but it seems to me that if a state tells you that you need to present some documentation that you had to pay for before you can vote, that payment becomes, for all intents and purposes, a poll tax. Don't be surprised if you see this case back in court before long, especially if Democrats feel as bad about it as they seem.

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