28 Apr 2008 Supreme Court Endorsement of Photo ID Election Rule Hailed by Black Activists
Project 21 and the Center for Equal Opportunity Had Presented an Amici Curiae in Case
Washington, D.C. – Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Indiana’s photo identification election law is hailed by black activists from the Project 21 leadership network as a positive move toward ensuring that future elections are less likely to be corrupted by vote fraud.
Project 21 and the Center for Equal Opportunity had presented an amici curiae (“friend of the court”) brief to the Supreme Court in this case that said Indiana’s law and other voter ID laws do not suppress voter turnout, as claimed by the law’s critics.
“The Supreme Court affirmed an essential tool in combating voter fraud and improving the integrity of our elections,” said Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. “Photo ID is a simple and cost-effective way to validate voter identity and discourage corruption. Additionally, this ruling is critical because it opens the door for other states to follow Indiana’s lead in ensuring honest and fair elections.”
In its decisive 6-3 decision, the justices upheld a lower court ruling in the combined cases of William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, et al. and Indiana Democratic Party et al. v. Todd Rokita, et al. The plaintiffs in the case challenged a 2005 Indiana law requiring voters to present government-issued photo identification before being allowed to vote.
In his majority opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.'” In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “The universally applicable requirements of Indiana’s voter-identification law are eminently reasonable. The burden of acquiring, possessing and showing a free photo identification is simply not severe, because it does not ‘even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.'”
Today’s landmark decision reaches far beyond Indiana because more than 20 states already require some form of identification at polling places and more state legislatures have been delaying consideration of a photo ID law in anticipation of the Court’s ruling.
A recent survey found the concept of requiring valid photo ID as a prerequisite for voting is very popular across the general population. A January Rasmussen Reports poll commissioned by Fox 5-Washington and The Washington Times asked “Should voters be required to prove their identity by showing a government-issued photo ID before they’re allowed to vote?” Of the 1,000 adults polled, 67 percent approved of the requirement. Demographically, 69 percent of whites, 58 percent of blacks and 66 percent of other minority groups supported a photo ID requirement at polling places.
“Critics now must realize that they have lost at the highest level and must stop using the issue for political purposes. Instead, they still concentrate on the necessary and achievable goal of ensuring those who want and need proper identification can get it,” said Project 21’s Borelli.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.