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Election Law

‘Troubling Partisan Divide’ in Voter ID Judicial Split

Posted Sep 24, 2007 9:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Voter ID laws are dividing lawmakers and the judiciary, who tend to split along partisan lines when considering the measures.

As many as 22 million Americans of voting age don’t have photo identification, which means they can’t vote if they live in a state that requires such ID before a ballot is cast, Adam Liptak writes in his Sidebar column for the New York Times.

Judge Richard Posner of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals explained why Democrats oppose such laws in a January panel decision (PDF posted by the New York Times) upholding Indiana legislation. Both Posner and the judge who joined him were appointed by Republican presidents; the dissenter is a Democratic appointee.

“No doubt most people who don’t have photo ID are low on the economic ladder and thus, if they do vote, are more likely to vote for Democratic than Republican candidates,” he wrote.

The en banc court later refused to hear the case, with four dissents. All but one of the dissenters were appointed by a Democratic president, Liptak writes.

The U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to accept an appeal of the decision today. Election law expert Richard Hasen argued in a Washington Post editorial that the court should grant cert, in part "to correct a troubling partisan divide among lower-court judges over the constitutionality of such laws."

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