Posted Dec. 26, 2007- Are laws requiring voters to show a picture ID a needed protection against voter fraud or merely another type of poll tax designed to keep Blacks and Latinos away from the polls?
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That’s a question that the U.S. Supreme Court will seek to resolve this year when it tackles one of the most racially divisive issues on the agenda.
In Indiana, where Republicans run the Legislature, lawmakers passed a law two years ago requiring voters to show a government-issued ID.
Several other states have instituted similar voter ID laws, and, in most instances, lower courts have upheld their constitutionality.
The problem, say the mostly Democratic critics, is that such a law particularly discourages Blacks and Latinos – who are less likely to have driver’s licenses or government IDs and more likely to lean left at the polls.
They liken the laws to poll taxes and voter exams administered to Black voters in the South during the 1950s and ’60s, to discourage them from voting. "Let's not beat around the bush: The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic," wrote Bill Clinton appointee Terence T. Evans, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in his dissent.
But in the eyes of Republicans and other observers, demanding that voters show an ID card is not that big an imposition.
"It is exceedingly difficult to maneuver in today's America without a photo ID (try flying, or even entering a tall building such as the courthouse in which we sit, without one)," wrote Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner, a Ronald Reagan appointee, in joining the majority decision that the Indiana law does not violate the Constitution.
What do you think? Is the law a simple requirement, or is it a Republican attempt to keep Blacks and Latinos away from the polls?