5 Reasons Why One Prominent Conservative Judge Claims Voter ID Laws Are Ridiculous
A popular political talking point from the past decade has been voter fraud and enacting voter ID #laws to combat such sinister actions.
The 2012 Presidential Election illuminated that the laws were less about protecting the integrity of our elections and more about manipulating the #voting pool and disenfranchising voters who were likely to vote for the Democratic Party.
Even after the leader of the Pennsylvania Republican Party said, “Voter ID will help Romney win Pennsylvania,” the GOP and voter ID advocates maintained it was about strengthening our democracy.
Their goal is to fill young minds with the idea that voter fraud is a real problem, in hopes that we will continue the practice when we are in charge.
Perhaps most controversial of these laws belonged to Wisconsin, which Republican Governor Scott Walker championed.
According to the law, voters in Wisconsin must show a state-issued ID in order to vote, including absentee voters, who consist of the elderly and even victims of domestic violence, who have protected addresses.
After a series of court battles prevented the law from implementation, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled the law could go forward for the November 2014 Midterm Election.
So, what good could come from this?
Meet Judge Richard Posner, defender of your right to vote.
Gaining notoriety for his ruthless dismantling of Indiana’s defense of its gay marriage ban, Judge Posner’s voice carries serious clout when it comes to partisan rulings. As the LA Times notes, Judge Posner is an established conservative, whom Ronald Reagan appointed to the bench in 1981.
His history shows a respectable 33 years on the bench as a Court of Appeals judge. In this time, Posner has become the most cited legal scholar of all time, according to Fred Shapiro of Yale Law School.
So, when Posner exacts a devastating takedown of the Republican-backed voter ID laws, potentially preventing some 300,000 citizens in Wisconsin from voting, it’s worth listening to his argument. His remarks came after his Circuit voted to allow the voter ID law, essentially making his findings a dissent.
Feel free to check out Judge Posner’s original remarks here, but these are the highlights in his effort to explain the devious nature of voter ID laws:
1. Photo IDs are not required for other important tasks.
Photo [identification cards] currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important…
The panel states,
…photo ID is essential [not only] to board an airplane… [but also to] pick up a prescription at a pharmacy, open a bank account…, buy a gun, or enter a courthouse to serve as a juror or watch the argument of this appeal.
These are not true statements.
2. Requiring a photo ID intentionally disenfranchises certain groups.
Millions of American citizens do not have readily available documentary proof of citizenship. Many more — primarily women — do not have proof of citizenship with their current name.
Millions of American citizens also do not have government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Finally, certain groups —primarily poor, elderly and minority citizens — are less likely to possess these forms of documentation than the general population
The panel opinion does not discuss the cost of obtaining a photo ID. It assumes the cost is negligible. But, it has been found that,
…the expenses of obtaining a photo ID for documentation, travel and waiting time are significant — especially for minority groups and low-income voters —, typically ranging from about $75 to $175.… Even when adjusted for inflation, these figures represent substantially greater costs than the $1.50 poll tax outlawed by the 24th amendment in 1964.
3. Voter fraud is essentially non-existent
An expert witness who studied Wisconsin elections in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012 found zero cases of in-person voter impersonation fraud.
Some of the ‘evidence’ of voter-impersonation fraud is downright goofy, if not paranoid, such as the nonexistent buses that, according to the “True the Vote” movement, transport foreigners and reservation Indians to polling places.
4. Voter ID laws are truly politically motivated.
Strict photo ID states are politically conservative, at least at the state level, as are five of the eight non-strict photo ID states (all but Hawaii, Michigan and Rhode Island).
Photo ID laws are highly correlated with states with Republican influences of power, like governor and legislature majority.
5. Voter ID laws are designed to keep potential Democratic votes away from the polls
There is evidence both that voter impersonation fraud is extremely rare and that photo ID requirements for voting, especially of the strict variety found in Wisconsin, are likely to discourage voting. This implies that the net effect of such requirements is to impede voting by people easily discouraged from voting, most of whom probably lean Democratic.
The United States Supreme Court has stepped in and blocked Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law, making its status for the election unclear.
As the next generation of politicians and influencers, it’s important that we never forget what our country stands for: equality for all and inclusion in our political process.
This election, future elections and elections in which we run will be our opportunity to show that we do not stand for the partisan policies that have driven this country into gridlock. It’s nice to know that our legal system continues to defend our rights, no matter its political leanings.