Voter photo IDs are constitutional
Perhaps before Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and several of his Senate colleagues demanded a Department of Justice investigation into state laws that require voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot, they should have reviewed the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said such a requirement is constitutional.
In that ruling on an Indiana law, the high court said requiring voters to produce a photo ID “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.’ “
The court also determined the minor burden of going down to the local courthouse and obtaining a free photo ID under Indiana law is not a serious hindrance to voting.
Six states, in addition to Indiana, now have photo ID requirements for voting. A similar measure passed the GOP-controlled House in the Colorado Legislature, but died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Bennet and 15 fellow Democratic senators sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, urging him to use “the full power of the Department of Justice to review these voter identification laws and scrutinize their implementation.”
“Many of these laws effectively disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters,” Bennet said in a press release this week.
That’s the claim from opponents of voter ID laws, primarily Democrats — Republicans have largely been responsible for passing such laws — but there is little evidence to support it.
Both Indiana and Georgia saw no decrease in the number of people casting ballots after they passed photo ID requirements. Georgia saw record numbers of minority voters in the 2008 election.
In the Indiana case, the courts said those opposing the law didn’t produce a single piece of evidence demonstrating that any registered voter would be prevented from voting.
However, as the high court noted in the Indiana case, there have been real, documented cases of voter fraud throughout our nation’s history. They may not be as prevalent as some people would have us believe, but they do occur, even in modern elections.
This doesn’t mean we support laws such as one proposed in Arizona that would have required a passport, birth certificate or other proof of citizenship to vote.
But photo IDs are required for everything from boarding a plane to cashing a check. As the Supreme Court has ruled, it is not an onerous infringement on Americans’ rights to require they prove who they are before they cast a ballot.
Sen. Bennet and his like-minded collegeaues should know that. They should drop their attempt to prod the Department of Justice into a political witch hunt on this issue. The nation has much more pressing business right now.