Thursday, January 10, 2008

Must have Photo ID to Rock the Vote

Please check out this article from the New York Times on the case before the Supreme Court challenging the Indiana voter ID law. The law says that either you have to produce a photo ID when you vote or, if you don't have photo ID, vote provisionally and then go to the county courthouse within 10 days of voting to validate your vote. Proponents of the law claim that it is necessary to prevent in-person voter fraud. Challengers of the law claim that the law will, in effect, disenfranchise minorities, poor people, and elderly people, all of whom are less likely to have photo IDs. Voting is a fundamental right and this law infringes on that right, so the court should use "strict scrutiny" as their standard of review. (Sorry to use Wikipedia as a link, but I think this particular article does a good job summarizing strict scrutiny from what I can remember from my law school days.) Strict scrutiny means that the law must protect a compelling government interest and be narrowly tailored and use the less restrictive means to achieve that interest.

The Times article does a pretty good job of summing up how things are going (not well; divided along party lines). It really pisses me off and makes me sad that Kennedy said the law causes a "minor inconvenience" for people. I feel like he's not thinking about how truly difficult it is for some people to get to government office buildings during their hours of operation, because of the hours the person works, or not having child care, or being physically disabled. It has not been proven that there is any problem in the U.S. with in-person voter fraud, but I think it's entirely apparent that we do have a problem getting people out to vote at all. I think it's horrible that states are writing laws that make it more difficult for people to vote.

If this law gets upheld, then I really hope that registration drives start to include helping people obtain photo ID. I wonder if there is some kind of fund that could be put together to help people with the fees that accompany getting a photo ID in some states.


In international news, the Times reported yesterday that abortion clinics are shutting down in Spain, while the workers go on strike to protest the lack of government protection from violent and threatening pro-life protesters. I do think the Spainish government should do all it can to ensure the safety of the clinic workers and the women who use the clinics, but I can't help but think that by shutting down the clinics to protest, the clinic workers are hurting their own clients (an estimated 2,000 women will be affected) more than making a statement to the government or to the pro-life movement.

(Why does the NY Times author call the pro-life people "anti-abortion?" I would call them anti-choice. Out of politeness, I have chosen to call them pro-life here, but calling them "anti-abortion" implies the other side is pro-abortion. As I have said before, I believe both sides of this debate are committed to reducing the number of abortion; pro-life people generally believe that the way to do this is to make all abortion illegal and teach abstinence-only sex education and pro-choice people generally believe that the way to reduce the number of abortions is to keep it legal [read: safe] and promote pro-contraceptive sex education. It's disingenuous to present one side as anti-abortion and, in doing so, imply that the other side is pro-abortion. Although maybe the pro-life movement in Spain is commonly referred to as anti-abortion and that is why the NY Times has chosen this nomenclature.)


Fairy Tail said...

It's a real shame that the workers in these clinics in Spain feel so threatened and unprotected by those representing them that they have to make a stand in this way. I just hope that that the Spanish government takes note and does something to help ease this situation a little - the pro-life/anti-abortion/anti-choice supporters (label as you wish) must be really proud of themselves that they've made people feel so uncomfortable about the work they do that the only solution open to them to try get the situation resolved is to stop doing their work. How thoughtful of them to consider the lives of people already living in this world, as well as the ones that (in the minds of some) don't exist yet...

Anonymous said...

great post. I just wanted to add that one of the reasons all of those U.S. Attorneys were fired was because they weren't aggressive enough in prosecuting "voter fraud" cases.