Monday, May 08, 2006

DNC Challenges States' Voter ID Laws

I find our national elections to be fascinating, not just for the policy discussions and partisan mud-slinging, but also for the influence the political parties attempt to impose on state election laws. Every state determines their own voter ID requirements in accordance with Federal law, but Howard Dean and his Democrat National Committee are not happy with that arrangement (hat tip: Election Law Blog)

Dean said the law is "part of a national Republican program to disenfranchise voters" and drive down voter turnout.

A similar law passed in Georgia was overturned by the courts, and Dean said he thinks the same will eventually happen to Indiana's law. Dean said the case could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. "We're going to take this as far as we have to," he said.

Secretary of State Todd Rokita, though, said reports Tuesday showed "no systemic problem" and that in any case the legal appeal will have to be on the evidence already offered in the court case.

"The way the law is crafted, there is always a way for (people without the necessary ID) to vote if they wanted to," he said, citing provisional ballots, which are counted if the person later produces the ID or cites religious scruples against the photo ID. - IndyStar

I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and watched the DNC battle Nader's ballot qualification state-by-state in 2004. So, this kind of move is not at all beneath them.

What the DNC doesn't seem to care about is that every time an illegal ballot is cast by an unqualified voter, a legal ballot is cancelled out and the qualified voter who cast that ballot is disenfranchised. So, using Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker's own standards, "If this law disenfranchises one voter", then perhaps we should also care if the overturning of this law would make it more likely that a legitimate voter would be disenfranchised.

In other bone-headed election moves, 56 Republicans in the House are ready to allow billingual ballot requirements expire this week (hat tip: Election Law Blog). I doubt there is much stomach in Washington for this effort. Even Senator Sensenbrenner can't support it.

"If [immigrants] want to achieve the American dream, they better learn how to read and function in English," Sensenbrenner said. "But this deals with the right to vote, and these people are United States citizens; they are not illegal immigrants. It seems to me these people should not be confused because they don't have the proper instruction about how to vote on ballots for the candidates of their choice." - LA Times

It's one thing to require proper voter identification to protect citizens from disenfranchisement, but to have naturalized citizens denied voter instructions in the language they most understand is just plain wrong.

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