By Alex Aronson of Portland, Oregon. Alex is the Youth Vote Director for the Bus Project.
Apparently the Supreme Court is so afraid of people tampering with democracy that they’re willing to forgo democracy altogether. Sounds fishy to me.
Just days before a hotly anticipated Indiana primary, the court voted 6-3 yesterday to uphold that state’s rigid Voter ID law requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls—the near nonexistent threat of voter fraud taking seeming precedence over undue burdens placed upon voters.
The ID law has a disproportionate impact on young people, low-income adults and members of minority groups, who move more frequently and are less likely to have state-issued IDs. To give you a sense of the degree of impact on young folks alone: in a recent Rock the Vote poll, 19% of American 18-29 year old people reported that they did not have government-issued IDs with their current address. “Hey, 1/5 of all young people: No Soup for You!”
But, despite these broad swaths of non-ID-possessing citizens, the court waived off the burden of acquiring an ID as “minimal” and “irrelevant.” (Just tell that to a single mother with two jobs and no car.) Meanwhile, the court defends Indiana’s interest in “deterring and detecting voter fraud” despite the simultaneous acknowledgment that "the record contains no evidence that the fraud…has actually occurred in Indiana…" Hmmmm.
Given the impacted groups’ historically leftward leanings, the political implications (motivations?) of the court’s decision are difficult to ignore. In upholding the Indiana law, the court effectively rubber-stamped the Right’s very favorite campaign strategy: good old-fashioned voter suppression.
Here in Oregon, a similar, even stricter disenfranchisement law (let’s call it what it is) could be on the ballot this November. Ballot Initiative 112—one of two circulating anti-immigrant initiatives—would require all first time Oregon voters to provide proof of citizenship to register to vote. Do you know where your birth certificate is?
In a country with a long and ignominious history of targeted voter disenfranchisement, our constitutional right to vote has yet again been spit upon—this time by the highest court in the land.