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Locals react to SCOTUS ruling on voter ID

The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld Indiana’s voter identification law, finding states can require photo identification without violating voters’ rights, thus validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws. Per the Washington Post, critics say the 6-3 ruling disenfranchises those least likely to have driver’s licenses or passports: the poor, elderly, disabled and city dwellers.

More than 20 states have some form of voter ID law, but Indiana’s is the strictest. This case’s record contained no evidence that the type of polling-place impersonation fraud this law was meant to pre-empt has ever occurred in Indiana, but those who wanted the law stricken had trouble identifying specific voters whose ballots were not counted because of it.

Here’s what Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, has to say about it:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision reminds us that the struggle for civil rights continues and the right to vote is still under threat.

“This decision is a big blow to all Americans -especially the poor, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities who will face tremendous obstacles in exercising the fundamental right to vote.

“Frankly, the continued push for these photo-identification laws is not at all about the integrity of the electoral process – but rather part of a tradition of voter suppression that must end.

“I am committed to defending the right to vote for every American and I will work with my colleagues to strengthen and preserve our electoral process.”

Comments from Pelosi, Feinstein et al, after the jump…

From House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“The Supreme Court’s decision is disappointing. The Court’s decision today places obstacles to the fundamental rights of American citizens—especially the poor, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities—to participate in the electoral process. Requiring American citizens pay for underlying documents needed for an identification card and travel to distant motor vehicle locations for processing hinders—and diminishes—their right to vote.

“The right to vote is a foundation of our democracy. American citizens who wish to vote must be able to do so.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“I am disappointed by this ruling. In recent years, we have seen how important every vote is — not just for local elections, but all the way up to the Presidency. I believe we should be doing everything possible to ensure that everyone who is entitled to vote should be able to vote, and not place insurmountable roadblocks in their way.

“Unfortunately, by leaving the Indiana voter photo ID law in place, the Supreme Court has not only imperiled the rights of thousands of vulnerable voters with no ready access to photo IDs, but the court has potentially opened the floodgates to new rounds of similar politically motivated voting laws.

“The bottom line is that there is no evidence that in-person vote fraud — the kind of fraud that would be prevented by voter photo IDs — is a problem. Yet, voter ID laws create a serious burden for elderly voters, low-income voters, students, and minorities — those whose voting rights we should be seeking to affirm rather than challenge.

“I filed an amicus brief opposing this law. I urged the Supreme Court to respect the balance struck in the Help America Vote Act—where there was flexibility in establishing voter identification. As written, Indiana voters may be required to show multiple forms of identification to comply with state laws.

“If this law is enforced in a Presidential election, I’m afraid we will see many otherwise qualified voters turned away at the polls. The Supreme Court should be protecting the right to vote, not undermining it.”

From House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“No right carries with it more responsibility — or potential for grave abuse — than the sacred right to vote. With this ruling, the American people can have renewed faith in their government’s ability to conduct fair and honest elections. In the world’s oldest and most respected democracy, we can never permit those who seek to defraud the electoral process to succeed. These actions would only serve to harm the American people and weaken our democracy. Today’s ruling rightfully allows states to safeguard against such destructive abuse.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • jh

    “The right to vote is a foundation of our democracy. American citizens who wish to vote must be able to do so.”…Nancy…tell that to the people in the states where YOUR party decided not to count their votes in YOUR primary