SCOTUS approved Indiana's voter ID law

But the AP ignores the problem

By Soren Dayton Posted in | | | Comments (18) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

I am not a lawyer, I am a political hack. I am sure that one of our lawyers will give a very scholarly review of today's Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana's voter ID law. Here's the AP's report. And here's the part that shocked me:

There is little history in Indiana of either in-person voter fraud -- of the sort the law was designed to thwart -- or voters being inconvenienced by the law's requirements. For the overwhelming majority of voters, an Indiana driver license serves as the identification.

I refer you to the 2003 East Chicago Democratic primary, which has been in the news recently. The teaser is the closing paragraph of the first story I am going to cite:

The task force filed charges against 53 people, Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter's office reported. Of the 52 concluded cases, 45 individuals were convicted, four cases were dismissed, one person died and two people have been found not guilty at trial.

45 convictions. How did we figure this out? Read on for more details

For example, on April 18th, a mere 14 days ago:

Two public safety officials pleaded guilty recently to crimes related to the 2003 East Chicago Democratic primary election, the Indiana attorney general reported Monday .

East Chicago firefighter Demetreos Hasapis, 44, pleaded guilty in Lake Criminal Court to unauthorized entry at the polls and was sentenced to a suspended 60-day sentence at the Lake County Jail, with 60 days of probation. His felony charge of voting in another precinct was reduced to the misdemeanor under a plea agreement with Lake County prosecutors, court records show.

East Chicago police Officer Ronald DeCastro, 38, pleaded guilty to failure to cast or return a ballot in an authorized manner. The Schererville resident was sentenced to a suspended 60-day sentence in the Lake County Jail and 60 days of probation, court records show.

Earlier in the year:

Herrera [a suspended county police officer] admitted handling a forged absentee ballot in the disputed 2003 primary that was judged to be so corrupt the results in the mayoral election were overturned, and former Mayor Robert Pastrick's long political career ended in a special 2004 election.

You see, all the evidence for this stuff was discovered when one crook in the Democratic primary started testifying against another crook in the Democratic primary. Then there is this:

Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter announced today that his office is joining an investigation of alleged absentee voter fraud in last year’s Democratic primary for mayor of Jeffersonville.

Carter said in a press release that he was asked to join the investigation by Ron Simpson, the Harrison County senior prosecutor who was appointed in December to investigate the allegations as a special prosecutor.

Former Mayor Rob Waiz, who lost to current Mayor Tom Galligan in the primary, filed the allegations with Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart. Stewart asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because his wife, Candace Stewart, works for the Galligan administration.

Hmmm. Close Democratic primaries in Indiana leading to election fraud. Hmmmm. I wonder what we might see next week between Hillary and Obama.

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SCOTUS approved Indiana's voter ID law 18 Comments (0 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

...of course there was no voter fraud. After all, it was Democrats doing it.

"No matter how much lipstick you put on the taxation pig, it's still a pig... and it's currently snout-down in your wallet." - Michael Fisk

A long-standing ploy by liberal legal activists is to bring a court challenge to a law on the grounds that someone somewhere MIGHT be "discriminated against" or "disenfranchised." Not that they can even name a single person who actually was hurt in that way, only that perhaps someone could be hurt that way.

And with that ploy, famously liberal courts like the 9th Circuit or the old Earl Warren Supreme Court struck down law after law.

Now in this case, we can cite dozens of examples of actual voter fraud all over the nation, including at least one right in Indiana. Liberal activists dismiss evidence of actual voter fraud in favor of hypothetical "discrimination" which they cannot even prove will occur.

It was Scalia, I'm pretty sure, who raised the bar on such hypothetical tests. He wants to see real proof that people will be hurt by a law. Usually, there isn't any.

This is an interesting result, and it's not along normal partisan lines (the 5-4 with Kennedy casting the deciding vote). It's actually Stevens who pens the controlling (though not majority) opinion, oddly enough.

No one cites Bush v. Gore. But the decision does leave open "as applied" challenges, meaning that someone who could show specific evidence as to why the law is onerous to him/her.

I, for one, don't think the law is particularly onerous. But I don't think you can totally dismiss legal challenges to a law on behalf of the poor or disenfranchised. They are the least likely to be able to enforce their own rights or assert their own interests. If it wasn't for some of these cases, we wouldn't have the right to a jury trial in criminal cases, miranda rights, and we would still have segregated schools.

I don't think the hypothetical opportunity cost of waiting in line to get a photo ID is that burdensome when compared with the state interest of voter fraud. But I don't see anyone actually being able to bring an "as applied" challenge. I mean, if you are unable to get a photo ID, I don't know how you're going to figure out how to file a lawsuit, or have an incentive to, unless some organization picks up the cause again after the elections.

I am a little concerned with some of the language though, that states

But if a nondiscriminatory law is supported by valid neutral justifications, those justifications should not bedisregarded simply because partisan interests may haveprovided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators.

I feel like this might make legislators bolder in their voter requirements, which I think eventually will reach the onerous.

That was an actual person, Ernesto Miranda, who went against the real state of Arizona, in a real case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which led to the Miranda ruling. Miranda had confessed to various violent crimes but later tried to claim his rights had been violated because he had not been first informed of his right to counsel.

The civil liberties cases you're thinking of, Gideon v. Wainwright, Mapp v. Ohio, Escobedo v. Illinois, Miranda v. Arizona, all involved real defendants and real litigants.

They weren't these hypothetical analyses in which a bunch of lawyers plead that some minority group somewhere might be offended, or disenfranchised, or discriminated against.

First, that this case didn't involve "real" litigants, and second that it didn't involve any actual harm.

In terms of real litigants, this case involved several groups representing seniors, the homeless, and the local chapter of the NAACP. It's their mission statement to look after the group they purport to represent. Conservative groups do this too, such as "Campaign for California Families" in the ongoing gay marriage cases in CA, or Ducks Unlimited in wildlife and game regulatory issues. Standing requirements keep out people who have no stake in the outcome of the litigation.

As to your point that the harm is "hypothetical," courts routinely deal with harm that might occur in the future. Such is the nature of injunctions, stays, and such. This case involved a facial challenge to a law, which requires a (pretty demanding) showing that there is "no set of circumstances exists under which the [the law] would be valid." This test was penned by Rehnquist in U.S. v. Salerno. Thus, it is, by nature, forward looking, as it is to avoid future harm.

Sure, Miranda involved a criminal defendant. It wouldn't have come up otherwise, due to the nature of the constitutional challenge (convicted based on self-incriminating statement w/o being informed of constitutional rights). But the import of the case is its prophylactic rule that now ALL persons arrested (or in custody) must now be given their Miranda warnings so as to avoid self-incrimination as prohibited by the fifth amendment.

But like I said, I think photo IDs are ok. Whew.

The name is sort of a joke about how I feel at my job. When no one else wants to do a project they give it to me. Thus the name :)

....being a scoundrel first.
They've been very busy throwing free elections under the bus for the last eighty years or so.

In evaluating the evidence relevant to this case, one must distinguish between types of voter fraud. That is to say, requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls will have no direct impact on absentee voter fraud; it will have no direct impact on the intentional destruction of ballots. That is why the Court, and the plaintiffs, can say that there is not a lot of voter impersonation fraud that this law would prevent. It is not clear from the news articles to which Soren links in this post that any of the examples therein would be prevented by this law - they appear more to have involved absentee ballots, although the reports are skimpy on details for all the defendants.

Which is not the same as what plaintiffs and others (mainly academics and Democratic Party partisans) have been saying, which is that there is no evidence of fraud that can be prevented by this type of law. There may not be much, but there is some. The flip side is that there is little evidence that this discourages people from voting: not a single plaintiff in the case was actually unable to vote because of the law. Surely there are some people whom the law discourages from voting, but it is probably not too many. (Note I say people are "discouraged" from voting, not "disenfranchised," since the effect of the law is not to prevent voting - to disenfranchise - but to slightly raise the cost of voting - for the overwhelming majority, by less than the cost of having to register to vote in the first place.)

So, not much impersonation voter fraud, not many people discouraged from voting. My own sense is that this decision will not have much practical impact either way, although both sides have been fired up about it. Over time it may become more important due to the leeway it gives states, which may result in still more legislation.

Brad Smith
Professor of Law
Capital University Law School
Capital University website
Center for Competitive Politics website

Why would God invent something like whiskey? To keep the Irish from ruling the world of course.

early 1850's, the Sons of St. Tammany and other Democratic Party organizations have specialized in organizied voter fraud. In fact, the last fifty years have been "relatively" fraud free if you consider the period 1858 to 1908 with the period 1958 to 2008.

Just because there have been no massive prosecutions or arrests for vote fraud so far, does not mean there won't be, that there could be quite a few in the 'pipeline' and that like Rep. Flake (R-AZ) said a few months ago, there is something coming 'down the pike'.

Anyway.. the absence of something does not prove its non-existence. Oh.. to liberals that's a main belief. Sorry libs.

Proudly Supporting Patriots At

each other, within the party, before they see the wrong. Just as with the late awakening with Hillary and poor enraged Bill do they come around to the temporary semblance of principles.
Great people, born to both lead and save us from ourselves.

"a man's admiration for absolute government is proportinate to the contempt he feels for those around him". Tocqueville

I work for a big city welfare department. Motor Voter requires our staff to offer voter registration cards to everyone applying for welfare; that includes self-declared illegal aliens and non-citizens. Our staff our required to "offer and assist applicants and recipients" in completing the registration, even when the worker knows the person is not eligible to vote. We are supposed to depend on the city elections office to verify citizenship. In my city, the elections department refuses to verify citizenship as this is "racial profiling".

This is the next piece of the voter fraud structure that needs to be dismantled. It's gone on since 1993 when Our First Black President signed it into law.

Happy that the law was upheld and that 1 vote per a legal citizen is still rule of law. Look forward to the NYTimes liberal bias Op-ed tom LOL

From the lede:

"...upholding a Republican-inspired law that Democrats say will keep some poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots."

Let's see. Republicans want to stop the poor and the old from voting. Oh, ok.

Also, one of the plaintiffs herself in this case was registered to vote in two different states. So much for "no evidence of voter fraud."


I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years.

- Barack Obama, 11/04/04

I was a bit worried about how this would turn out, if you know what I mean. I know that by law & common sense it would be a "no brainer;" however, sometimes law & common sense seem to be meaningless to some on the SC. Now, we need to get laws passed in all the states to require photo ID to vote - I mean, if you need it to buy beer why not have the same due diligence to make sure that the voter is who he/she says he/she is?

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