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Plaintiff loses federal challenges to voter ID law

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A federal judge ruled against a Cumberland man in his federal challenge to Indiana's voter identification law, but did remand his pending state claims to a Marion Superior Court for consideration.

U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment April 16 for Marion County, Marion County Clerk Beth White, and the State of Indiana in Robbin Stewart's lawsuit challenging Indiana's statutory requirement that a person voting at the polls has to present a government-issued photo ID. Stewart has an acceptable form of identification but believes having to present it violates his rights.

Stewart argued in Robbin Stewart v. Marion County, et al., No. 1:08-CV-586, that the voter ID law violates the First, Fourth, 14th and 24th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. His challenges based on the First and 14th amendments are foreclosed by Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, 458 F. Supp.2d 775 (S.D. Ind. 2006), and Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008). His challenge that the voter ID law is a poll tax also failed because the 7th Circuit already noted that it's not a poll tax in Crawford.

"Stewart already has a driver's license, which is a valid form of photo identification. Therefore, he has not been required to incur any extra costs to obtain a valid photo identification to present when voting and does not have standing to challenge any alleged fees which might be incurred by a person not similarly equipped with photo identification," wrote Judge McKinney.

Stewart's Fourth Amendment challenge failed because those rights aren't affected. Stewart had a choice when voting in person - present his driver's license and vote, or refuse to present it and choose to cast or not cast a provisional ballot. The encounter was consensual and had no impact on his rights, wrote the judge.

"Even if requiring identification at the polls does constitute a search, it still does not violate the Fourth Amendment," wrote Judge McKinney. "... the State of Indiana has an important interest in preventing voter fraud. Asking every voter who appears at the polls for identification in a consistent manner is a lawful means of serving this interest."

The federal judge decided not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Stewart's pending claims under Indiana state law and remanded the case to Marion Superior Court for consideration. Last year, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the voter ID law violates Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution in League of Women Voters of Indiana, et al. v. Rokita, 915 N.E.2d 151 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009). The case is currently pending before the Indiana Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case March 4.

Stewart, an attorney, was suspended in May 2009 for not fulfilling CLE requirements.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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