New voter ID lawsuit filed

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
The League of Women Voters of Indiana filed a lawsuit today in Marion County challenging the state's three-year-old voter identification statute recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

At 2 p.m. today, the organization filed the suit with the Marion Superior Court against Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, arguing that it has the standing to sue on behalf of its members because the state statute burdens potential voters and would cause the league to have to spend "precious resources" assisting voters without the required ID.

This lawsuit comes following the April 28 ruling from the nation's highest court in William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, 128 S. Ct. 1610 (2008), which upheld the state law that is considered the strictest in the nation. That ruling rejected the facial challenge, but left the door open for as-applied challenges in federal court and those involving state constitutional claims.

But that case won't have much impact here, according to Indianapolis attorney William Groth who is co-counsel on this suit. The league is only raising Indiana constitutional challenges, which makes this different, he said.

"Crawford only minimally factors in," Groth said. "It discusses the law, how it operates, and sets the legal landscape for us, but doesn't have any impact."

Specifically, the suit says the 2005-passed Indiana voter ID law violates the Indiana Constitution's Article 2, Section 2, which states citizens only need to meet the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in order to cast a vote in-person. Any change the legislature might make must come through a constitutional amendment, not a statute, which didn't happen here, the suit says.

The suit doesn't name any specific plaintiffs, but does mention two specific election examples where individuals were restricted from voting because of the law.

One example happened during the 2007 municipal election when at least 34 voters arrived to vote without the required photo ID and were given provisional ballots - only two produced that ID later to have their votes count. The second example occurred during the May 2008 primary when 12 elderly St. Joseph County nuns were not even allowed to cast provisional ballots because they didn't have the required ID.

"Our argument will turn on whether the voter ID law imposes a new substantive requirement, or whether it's merely regulating the mechanics of the voting process," Groth said. "It's a subtle and nuanced distinction, but our Indiana caselaw supports that this must be a constitutional amendment."

The suit requests a speedy hearing for a declaratory relief in time for the Nov. 4 general election, though Groth expects the controversial issues involved here will require this case to be appealed and that could take longer.

Read the June 25-July 8, 2008 issue of Indiana Lawyer for a more in-depth story on this lawsuit, another in federal court, and others across the nation challenging voter identification requirements.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues