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Editorial: Remove obstacles that discourage voters

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
August 4, 2010
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

Casting a ballot in an election ought to be a simple thing for a citizen to do. But there are those who would make it as difficult as possible for some to exercise their franchise.

It strikes us that partisanship is at the heart of all of this work toward making it more difficult instead of easier to vote. Some may cite a lack of funding for not opening up satellite voting centers, and some may cite a need to prevent voter fraud as a reason for everyone to need to produce a photo identification at the polls, but both arguments come up short for us.

The ruling in the highly anticipated decision handed down in late June – League of Women Voters v. Todd Rokita – didn’t catch us by surprise. Lacking a plaintiff who has been harmed by the voter ID law, we would have been truly shocked had the Indiana Supreme Court ruled the other way.

For the majority, the decision to uphold the law appears to have been based on a simple case of a missing plaintiff, and yet we find ourselves drawn to this bit of the decision, written by Justice Brent Dickson: “Our decision today does not prevent any such voter from challenging the Law in the future.”

For those who seek to eventually overturn the voter ID law, we believe there is hope in that statement.

We wish that more of the justices, and we do not mean to disparage them here, had been able to see it Justice Theodore Boehm’s way. We appreciate this comment in Justice Boehm’s dissent: “A statute that wrongly denies any group of citizens the right to vote harms us all, and therefore may properly be challenged as invalid in its entirety, not merely as to those directly affected,” he wrote. “Thus I do not agree with the majority that the remedy the plaintiffs seek here – invalidating the voter ID requirement – is beyond their grasp.” He also believes that the only way that the photo identification requirement can be made is by amending the Indiana Constitution.

But it’s not just the identification one must have in order to cast a ballot that’s presently at issue. No, now it appears that satellite voting, which has been used to positive effect in the more populous regions of the state, is in danger of being scuttled entirely in Marion County for 2010.

Marion County Clerk Beth White, a Democrat, wants to open three satellite voting centers for the fall general election. It was Republicans most recently who pushed for the opening of satellite voting centers in advance of the 2008 general election. Now the lone Republican on the county’s Election Board is citing the lack of a process to safeguard and count votes, and the expense, as the reasons for not opening the voting centers this year, according to local news reports.

Both of those arguments strike us as disingenuous. Spending taxpayer dollars to make it easier for those taxpayers to vote sound like a good use of the people’s money, and the process for safeguarding the votes cast at satellite centers is the same one that has been used for years.

The decision to open satellite voting centers must be unanimous, and sadly, harmony among people of differing political parties appears to be a thing of the past.

“Today I call on both the Republican and Democratic parties to come together and work together” as the two major parties have in the past and make such voting centers possible for the 2010 general election, White said in a statement in late July.

Just once, we’d like to see that happen.

__________

Opinions: Readers may offer opinions concerning Indiana Lawyer stories and other legal issues. Readers may respond immediately by viewing the “submissions” section on our Web site: www.theindianalawyer.com. We reserve the right to edit letters for space requirements and to reproduce letters on Indiana Lawyer’s Web site and on online databases. We do not publish anonymous letters. Direct letters to editor Rebecca Collier at rcollier@ibj.com or 41 E. Washington St., Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

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  1. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  2. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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  4. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

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