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High court grants transfer to voter ID case

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The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether the state's voter identification law violates the Indiana Constitution.

The high court granted transfer today to League of Women Voters of Indiana Inc., et al. v. Todd Rokita, No. 49A02-0901-CV-40, in which the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously found the law "regulates voters in a manner that's not uniform and impartial." The appellate court reversed Marion Superior Judge S.K. Reid's 2008 ruling that the statute didn't violate Indiana Constitution Article 2, Section 2 and Article 1, Section 23.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office filed the petition for transfer in October. The statute has been upheld by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court in William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, 128 S. Ct. 1610 (2008).

The League of Women Voters claimed the voter ID law passed in 2005 violates Article 2, Section 2 of the state constitution that says citizens only need to meet age, citizenship, and residency requirements in order to vote in person. The plaintiffs believed any change must come through a constitutional amendment. The plaintiffs also argued the statute violates the state constitution under the equal privileges and immunities section because it's created disparate treatment of in-person voters because not every photo ID is uniform.

The Court of Appeals found the statute unconstitutional on its face. Indiana's lack of stringent absentee-voter regulations makes it unreasonable for this voter ID statute to put additional burdens only on in-person voters and not the others, the panel held. The judges also found Crawford didn't address the state statute questions at issue in the instant case.

The presidents of League of Women Voters of Indiana and League of Women Voters of Indianapolis released a joint statement today regarding the transfer.

"We are confident that after Indiana's highest court carefully examines the Voter I.D. Law, it will conclude that the burdens it imposes on otherwise qualified voters who vote in person are not justified by, or reasonably related to, its alleged purpose of preventing fraud," the statement said. "It is unjust that in-person voters be required to present government identification if they want their ballot counted. Such a requirement imposes an additional voting qualification not authorized in our state's Constitution."

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita also released a statement saying, "I am fully confident that when the justices of the Indiana Supreme Court review the merits of our exemplary law they, like their counterparts on the U.S. Supreme Court, will allow the law to stand."

Oral arguments haven't been set but will be scheduled by a further order, according to the transfer.

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