Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Voter-Fraud Showdown

Right now, half the states have decided that some kind of ID should be required to vote. It makes sense for the Supreme Court to allow federalism to work its will state-by-state. In 2006, the court unanimously overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling that had blocked an Arizona voter ID law. In doing so, the court noted that anyone without an ID is by federal law always allowed to cast a provisional ballot that can be verified later. The court also noted that fraud "drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised."

So the high court itself has already defined the nub of the case it is hearing today. On one side are those who claim photo IDs will block some voters from casting ballots, but offer scant evidence. On the other side are those who believe photo ID laws can act as a deterrent to irregularities the public increasingly views as undermining election integrity. Given the obvious political nature of the argument, here's hoping a clear Supreme Court majority reprises its 2006 finding and holds that such questions are best resolved by the elected branches of government and not by unaccountable courts.

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