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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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