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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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