Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Voter ID Laws

There are quite a few persuasive critiques of the Supreme Court's decision on voter ID laws yesterday. Is it really not burdensome for low-income individuals to produce the required documentation? Is it a solution in search of a problem? Was any of the evidence cited by Justice Stevens relevant?

The one aspect that really bothers me, however, is somewhat secondary to the legal arguments. In the opinion Stevens says,

Finally, Indiana’s interest in protecting public confidence in elections, while closely related to its interest in preventing voter fraud, has independent significance, because such confidence encourages citizen participation in the democratic process. Pp. 7–13.

The problem with this statement is two-fold. First, there is evidence to suggest that a law like this does nothing to prop up voter confidence. But assuming that it did, the relevant question is why voters believe voter fraud exists in the first place.

The answer has to be, at least in part, that Republican lawmakers and talking heads keep saying that it exists. Doesn't that put the Supreme Court in the position of standing up for the regulation of problems created artificially for political gain? This seems to be a stroke of genius by the Republican Party.

Step 1. Create doubt with voters that elections are honest.
Step 2. Create laws that "address" voter fraud.
Step 3. Argue that vote fraud laws must be upheld because voters have doubts.

It's remarkable really.

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