Sunday, May 4, 2014

Voter ID: Judge Adelman vs the U.S. Supreme Court

Conservatives are already shoving the U.S. Supreme Court’s Indiana Voter ID decision in our face just to discredit Judge Lynn Adelman, who struck down the Wisconsin law.

But opponents of the Indiana law oddly didn't present what should have been a mountain of evidence to prove the harm/burden to voters. So in the absence of that kind of evidence the justices wrote this…
The Court should only consider the “reasonably foreseeable effect on voters generally.”  Since the requirements of the Indiana law are reasonable and the burden is minimal, it does not violate the constitution. Justice Stevens noted: the record did not establish the number of Indiana voters without photo ID, there was no concrete evidence as to the burden that would be imposed on voters without photo ID, and none of the plaintiffs’ witnesses expressed an inability to vote under the statute. The lead opinion noted that combating voter fraud was a legitimate state interest even though there was “no evidence of such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history” … even those Justices who would not have held the law constitutional are not willing to hold it unconstitutional in the absence of specific evidence of an actual, not merely hypothetical, burden on the right to vote. 
John Nichols wrote in The Nation back in October 2013:
In his new book, Reflections on Judging, Judge Posner, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, writes “I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana’s requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo ID, a law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than fraud prevention.”
Specific evidence is just what Judge Adelman was finally able to provide. And that’s why this is such a big deal. From WPT's Here and Now, the ACLU's Karyn Rotker details her evidence:

But J.B. Van Hollen said, believe it or not, that Adelman's decision wasn't really his to make, that the legislature can do anything it wants. I still love the "voter fraud is impossible to prove" argument that ultimately exists. It's crazy, right. And when asked if Adelman was right when he said voter fraud laws themselves undermines pubic confidence, Van Hollen first denies it and then admits it's true. Conservatives really think this way:

Van Hollen even admits he doesn't know the extent of that burden, or could care less because the Supreme Court (as written above) ruled it didn't matter:

Interesting note from Upfront with Mike Goucha about how Republican tricks put Judge Adelman in his lifelong position:

Gousha also talked with crazy Republican State Sen. Mary Lazich, who actually said:
"After an election, the...people evaporate."  
See, voter fraud:

Here's a breakdown of Adelman's decision:
Jamelle Bouie is a Slate staff writer: Citing research on the incidence of in-person voter fraud in American elections, Adelman notes that, in eight years of Wisconsin elections — 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2012 — researchers could identify only "one case of voter-impersonation fraud." And in that case, it was a man who "applied for and cast his recently deceased wife's absentee ballot." Likewise, after "comparing a database of deceased registered voters to a database of persons who had cast ballots in a recent election" in Georgia, another researcher found "no evidence of ballots being illegally cast in the name of deceased voters."

"To commit voter-impersonation fraud," he says, "a person would need to know the name of another person who is registered at a particular polling place, know the address of that person, know that the person has not yet voted, and also know that no one at the polls will realize that the impersonator is not the individual being impersonated."

A substantial number of registered Wisconsin voters — 300,000, or 9 percent of the total — lack a qualifying ID … voter ID proponents scoff at the idea that someone would lack these documents. But according to a 2006 survey from the Brennan Center for Justice, as many as 13 million Americans lack ready access to citizenship documents, which overlaps with the 21 million who lack photo identification … millions have inconsistent documents, a passport that doesn't reflect their current name (a problem for many married women) or a photo ID that doesn't have their current address. Under the Wisconsin law, both groups would be barred from casting a normal ballot.

It's part of a larger trend of courts striking down voter ID laws. In the last year, four other states — Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas — have had their requirements reversed by federal courts.

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