29 April 2008

Erecting Legal Barriers to Democracy

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a restrictive Indiana Law regarding voter identification is truly idiotic. You can find the news report here.

The bill, enacted on a party line vote by the Republican dominated State Legislature requires each voter to present a state issued photo-ID before voting. The alleged point of this reform is to make it more difficult for someone - say me - from pretending to be someone else - say you - in order to steal your vote. Let's place aside the probability that your vote will come close to having an effect on electoral outcomes, let alone a pivotal effect. Let's inquire as to the point of all this.

Unfortunately for their argument, the Republicans could not identify a single reported case of someone trying to cast another person's vote. Ever! So this legislation is "fixing" a "problem" that doesn't exist. The Supremes admit as much. They - both the Republicans and the Supremes - also discount entirely the actual and transaction costs involved in obtaining such an ID among the poor and elderly in a state that, politely, is difficult to navigate via public transportation. The consequences of this decision are predictable. So, by upholding this unjustified "remedy," the Supremes placed the burden on those least able to bear it. Well done! That is the way one should operate a democracy.

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