Friday, September 18, 2009

Indiana Court strikes down voter ID law

Good news: a state appellate court in Indiana has struck down a law requiring voters to show identification at the polls there.

The voter id law was declared constitutional last year by the US Supreme Court, but was re-heard at the appellate level according to the Indiana Constitution. The appellate court ruled that the law was in violation of the state's version of the federal Equal Protection clause because it didn't require mail-in voters or some nursing home residents to show IDs, thereby holding one group of voters to a less-stringent standard of identification.

Indiana state officials said they would appeal to the State Supreme Court, but voting rights activists and legal scholars welcomed the decision. Speaking to the New York Times, Daniel P. Tokaji, an associate law professor at Ohio State University, said the Indiana Constitution is more protective of voting rights than the federal, and suggested that the appellate judges did not believe that the purpose of the law, passed by Republican legislators, was control of voter fraud.

Tova Andrea Wang, of Demos, noted these laws "particularly disenfranchise the elderly, people of color, the poor, people with disabilities and students," all traditionally Democratic voters. She called the idea that id laws are necessary for election integrity "a total canard."

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