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Politics & Power

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Voter Access Based on ID Availability Upheld by Supreme Court

In a 6-3 ruling the Supreme Court this week upheld an Indiana law requiring ID at the polls and ruled that states can require voters to show identification to vote on Election Day. Proponents of the legislation that created these requirements have long cited preventing voter fraud as their primary motivation. While many liberals have opposed such legislation conservatives hail the decision as a just and sound decision. In writing for the majority Justice John Paul Stevens wrote; "We cannot conclude that the statute imposes 'excessively burdensome requirements' on any class of voters," which was directly contradictory to the primary argument against the ID requirement. The opponents of the law had argued that it would lead to disenfranchisement of elderly and minority voters who often donít have state issued identification.

The question that naturally comes from this ruling is whether or not this ruling will in fact impact voter turnout among certain population segments and if the ruling favors one party over the other in the general election in November. Because of the cost and difficulty in obtaining identification for many this could potentially lower voter turnout. If the turnout were to negatively impact the elderly, it might hurt either Senators Clinton or McCain. If African Americans show up in lesser numbers that could negatively impact either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama which would put the Democrats in a difficult position faced with an opponent not seen as negatively as our current president and who can run on a record of opposing the current president on many occasions. Likewise, a low turnout by other ethnic minority voters who have historically voted Democrat would be a blow to either Obama or Clinton in the general election.

So, was the Supreme Court right in its ruling? Well, if you look at it from a purely constitutional standpoint, they probably were. The handling of elections was established in the Constitution as being an issue for the states to have jurisdiction over. States decide when primaries and caucuses are held they decide what manner of voting will take place in primaries and how delegates will be allocated. The federal government only really says when general national elections will be held and who is eligible to run for office. There are guarantees in the Constitution and subsequent amendments of access to the process and prohibiting discrimination based on race or gender but nothing about not requiring that people establish their identity in order to vote in an election. Whether you love or hate the ruling, it was sound on a constitutional basis. This is a statesí rights issue and falls under the rights of states to determine how they conduct elections.

There may be access issues with requiring people to carry current ID in order to vote but the truth of the matter is that most states offer services to transport elderly people to government facilities if they are disabled and need state services and the cost of a state issued identification card is not overly burdensome. Most states charge less than twenty-five dollars for an ID that is good for several years. You do not need to be a driver to have a state ID, but you do need to be here legally for the most part. There is some merit to arguments on both sides of this issue. There are people willing to cheat the system and we need to design the system to thwart that. There are also people that have difficulty accessing government services such as the state DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) which in most cases issues identification cards as well as driverís licenses and we need to make efforts to ensure that they are not needlessly excluded from the process.

Ultimately it is a matter for voters and the people they elect to decide at the state level. The Constitution guarantees states a level of autonomy when it comes to the voting process and in everyoneís interest we should preserve that autonomy. If we begin to impinge on the rights of states to hold elections in the manner they deem is best for their people it sets precedent to impose other national restrictions on statesí rights. Our government works in some measure due to the separation of powers between the states and the federal government. It behooves us all to remember why the framers of the Constitution established the rights of the states and acknowledge the wisdom of their vision.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article.



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net

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