January 9, 2008
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court today will hear oral arguments 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 cases challenge an Indiana law adopted in 2005 requiring voters to present government-issued photographic identification before being allowed to vote.
Project 21 and the Center for Equal Opportunity presented an amici curiae ("friends of the court") brief to the Court in this case making the argument that Indiana's law and other voter ID laws do not suppress voter turnout, as claimed by critics of ID requirements.
Project 21 members believe measures to prevent voting fraud are important.
"Voter fraud challenges the very foundation of our democracy," said Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. "It is outrageous that critics of voter ID laws seem so unconcerned about preventing voter fraud. Voter ID laws are necessary to maintain the integrity of our political process."
A decision by the Court on this case is expected in June.
Critics of voter identification legislation argue that requiring people to present proof of their identity is the equivalent to a "poll tax" that will prevent people from voting. They claim the law is particularly harmful to elderly, poor and minority voters.
The amici curiae brief presented by Project 21 and the Center for Equal Opportunity submitted to the Court notes such claims "find no support in the only published survey of voter turnout in Indiana since the implementation of Indiana's voter ID requirements" that was conducted by Professor Jeffrey Milyo of the University of Missouri. The Milyo study further indicates "statewide voter turnout increased by about two percentage points after the enactment of voter ID; that counties with a greater percentage of poor and minority voters had a significantly insignificant increase in relative turnout; that counties with a greater percentage of elderly or less educated voters had no significant change in relative turnout; and that counties with a higher percentage of Democratic voters had a significant relative increase in turnout."
The amici curiae brief also notes that a study suggesting proof of voter suppression cited by voter ID critics is based on a 2007 telephone poll unrelated to an actual election, which only asked people if they currently possess valid identification. That study did not take into account exceptions to the law's identification requirements, such as absentee voting.
"Photo identification is already required for many things, such as verifying credit cards and checks, opening a DVD rental membership, purchasing age-restricted products, access to some buildings and travel by air and rail. Because valid identification is required in so many facets of everyday life, they should not be considered a barrier to vote. By opposing an ID requirement, critics are only encouraging vote fraud and other election day shenanigans," added Project 21's Borelli. "Rather than fixating on catering to those still lacking proper identification, it would be more helpful to work on getting these people the credentials they need to operate in modern society."
Borelli points out that the partisan criticism of Indiana's voter identification law by state Democrats is interesting considering the unfair rules of the party's presidential caucusing process that began last week in Iowa and will happen again on January 19th in Nevada.
"It is rather ironic that the Indiana Democratic Party is the one challenging election integrity in light of the Iowa caucuses just last week," said Borelli. "In the Iowa caucuses, there were no absentee ballots. That effectively removed the sick, shut-ins and those still at work from participating. If you weren't there exactly at 7 pm, you were locked out of the process. If your candidate did not receive 15 percent support, your original preference was not considered 'viable.' There are no paper ballots. Party leaders shouldn't be able to just pick and choose when it comes to election ethics."
The amici curiae brief presented by Project 21 and the Center for Equal Opportunity was written by Geoffrey Slaughter of the Indianapolis law firm Sommer Barnard PC. It can be accessed online at http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/documents/Rokita-BriefamicuscuriaofCEqualOpp.pdf.
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. The Center for Equal Opportunity is the nation's only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.
For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Project 21's website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.