Monday, April 28, 2008

A fairly substantial win for Voter ID

Today's Supreme Court decision in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is largely good for those who want tougher laws aimed at detecting fraud in elections and reflects substantial deference to the legislature in determining the relative threat of fraud and in assessing - at least for the great run of voters - whether it justifies more stringent voting procedures.

The six justice majority was comprised of two groups of three who differed on the standard under which such regulations should be analyzed. Both strike me as fairly deferential although the standard adopted by the controlling opinion (Stevens joined by Kennedy and Roberts)leaves open the possibility of "as applied" challenges to voter identification laws.

It appears that such challenges, however, will have to show some substantial burden on a particular voter (or group of voters) that is more onerous than having to go and obtain a free ID. Although the record in Crawford showed very little in the way of actual fraud, the majority just doesn't seem to regard this as much of a burden upon the right to vote.

One caveat: The record in Crawford on the burden placed on voters by an ID requirement was extremely thin. Maybe plaintiffs who create such a record with respect to some subcategory of voters will fare better.

1 comment:

steveegg said...

My guess is it is the affidavit provision that ultimately got Justice Stevens on board. It is sad that Justices Kennedy and Roberts chose to join that opinion and make that the controlling opinion rather than Justice Scalia's opinion.