Thursday, September 17, 2009

voter ID law violates indiana constitution

so says the indiana court of appeals (pdf link):

here is perhaps the most important part of the decision:

The crux of the League's contention is that mail-in voters are not required by law to execute an affidavit regarding their identity, but in-person voters are required to produce a government issued photo identification card which contains an expiration date. The League directs our attention to our supreme court's decision in Horseman v. Keller, 841 N.E.2d 164 (Ind. 2006). In Horseman, the trial court declared Indiana Code section 3-12-1-13 unconstitutional because it did not allow mailed-in absentee ballots lacking two sets of clerks' initials to be counted in a recount although ballots cast in-person, but lacking two sets of clerks‟ initials, could be counted in the recount. Our supreme court declared to the contrary that the statute was constitutional, because inherent differences make mailed-in ballots more susceptible to improper influences or fraud, and, therefore, “it is reasonable that the legislature believed it in the interest of Indiana voters to more stringently govern absentee balloting.” Id. at 173.10 Because of this conclusion, the League contends that it is irrational for our legislature to require identification of in-person voters but not require an affidavit affirming the identity of mail-in voters. We agree.

If it is reasonable to "more stringently govern absentee balloting," then it follows that a statute that imposes a less stringent requirement for absentee voters than for those voting in person would not be reasonable. This is what the Voter I.D. law does.

apparently, the voter ID statute also stated that "residents of state licensed care facilities which also happen to be polling places" don't need to show ID. the court concluded that this is unfair and violates the Equal Priveleges and Communities clause.

We have no indication from our supreme court that the legal proposition requiring that the regulation of electors and elections be reasonable, uniform, and impartial has been subsumed by the two-prong Section 23 analysis, and, therefore, we must consider it to be a viable independent analysis from Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause in spite of the fact that both address uniformity. Indeed, Section 23 analysis requires only that those similarly situated be treated uniformly once a class is carved out by our legislature, but we find no such limitation in Morris, Simmons, or Blue. All qualified voters must be treated uniformly and impartially. We fail to see how the Voter I.D. Law's exception of those residing in state licensed care facilities, which happen to also be a polling place, 29 would be a uniform or impartial regulation. Furthermore, the Voter I.D. Law treats in-person voters disparate from mail-in voters, conferring partial treatment upon mail-in voters.

It seems that the inconsistent and impartial treatment favoring voters who reside at state care facilities which also happen to be polling places could be excised from the Voter I.D. Law without destroying the primary objectives of the Law. However, the same cannot be said for the inconsistent and partial treatment favoring absentee voters who choose to mail their votes without destroying the opportunity for mailing votes. There may be different ways in which the inconsistent and partial treatment of the Voter I.D. Law could be cured, but it is not our task to form suggestions for legislation. See State ex rel. Indiana State Bd. of Finance v. Marion County Superior, 272 Ind. 47, 52, 396 N.E.2d 340, 344 (1979) ("Our constitution is clear that the judicial department cannot exercise any of the functions of either the legislative department or executive . . . ."). Therefore, we must reverse and remand, with instructions to the trial court that it enter an order declaring the Voter I.D. Law void.

update: doug has more, as does indiana law blog.

1 comment:

DJ Shiva. said...

Hell to the yeah.

Thx for the heads up on this!