Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. And Stevens paid close attention to the mitigating measures of the Indiana lawsuch as the availability of free photo ID cards and the ability to cast provisional ballotsraising questions about the constitutionality of voter ID laws in which they are lacking. “It’s a loss, and we’re disappointed that the Court upheld what is currently the most restrictive voter ID law in the nation:’ said Wendy Weiser, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief that was cited by several of the court’s opinions. “But the Supreme Court has not given a blank check on voter ID lawseven Indiana’s” n his majority opinion, Justice Stevens wrote that the Court must engage in a balancing test to determine the constitutionality of the Indiana law. On one side are the state’s interests in modernizing its election system, preventing voter fraud, and increasing voter confidence in the electoral system. On the other are the burdens that the law imposes on specific groups of voters. Stevens took note of federal legislation such as the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which endorsed photo documents as an effective way of establishing identity. He also cited the 2005 Jimmy Carter-James Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, an independent study group sponsored by American University, which proposed a national polling-place photo Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. requirement. \(The commission also recommended that free identification cards should be readily available and that there be Although Stevens conceded that there is no evidence of in-person voting fraud in Indiana, he wrote, “[F]lagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this nation’s history by respected historians and journalists!’ Critics of the opinion have been quick to point out, however, that the only examples Stevens cited in his supporting footnotes were an 1868 mayoral election in New York City and one recent case in the 2004 Washington gubernatorial election. Stevens concluded by quoting from the Carter-Baker report that the “electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.” Stevens then weighed these benefits against the burdens that the Indiana law imposes. After dismissing the difficulties arising from “the vagaries of life such as loss or theft of photo identification around Election Day, he assessed the challenges confronted by those who do not have state-issued identification, such as the need to obtain required documents the motor vehicles department to get photographed. For those who don’t have IDs at the time of voting, obstacles include having to cast a provisional ballot, then travel to the MAY 16, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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