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Indiana Overturns Voter Identification Law

A state appellate court in Indiana ruled yesterday that a state law requiring voters to show identification was unconstitutional. The State’s ruling (see PDF) comes after a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2008 that upheld state voter ID laws as constitutional.

The League of Women Voters filed a separate suit in Illinois in July 2008. The Court reasoned that the voter ID law “violates [the] Indiana Constitution [and] must be declared void because it regulates voters in a manner that is not uniform and impartial.” The separate rulings stem from the fact that the US Supreme Court rules according to the U.S. Constitution, whereas state courts rule based on their individual constitutions.

Many states have voter ID laws, and most Democrats are against them. Those against the laws argue that voting identification requirements would disenfranchise some minority voters, as they are less likely to have photo IDs. Furthermore they argue that voter ID laws are comparable to poll taxes, since most forms of ID cost money to acquire.

Michael J. Pitts, a professor at Indiana University School of Law told the New York Times, “the states are much more amenable to these kinds of lawsuits than the federal courts are. This is where the battles are going to be played out.”

Sources:

National Conference of State Legislatures 8/31/09; New York Times 9/17/09; Indiana Court of Appeals 9/17/09

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