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Voter ID Laws Ripe for Supreme Court Review

Updated on July 22, 2016

A Backlash Against Voter ID Law Restrictions

Virginia’s voter ID law leads a list of voting rights cases headed to the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, they arrived too late to an understaffed Supreme Court to make any difference in the November 2016 general election, according to a report by The Legal Forum ().

The U.S. District Court in Richmond has upheld Virginia’s Voter ID law, SB 1256, which requires­ voters to present a form of statuto­rily-approved identification before they can vote. Approved identification in­cludes Virginia driver’s licenses, U.S. passports and other photo identification issued by the state.

Student identification and employee badges are not adequate to register and vote under the law.

State lawmakers say they are trying to protect the voting process from fraud and from votes by unauthorized persons, such as illegal immigrants. Reform advocates say the law discriminates against low income persons who might lack driver’s licenses and other approved government identification.

Similar voter identification cases have been heard by courts in Texas and Wisconsin, which also led to appeals now ripe for review by the Supreme Court.

A federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ voter identification law violates the Voting Rights Act. The court ordered the state to find a way to accommodate voters who would be eligible to vote if not for their difficulty in obtaining the necessary documents.

However, since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the Supreme Court is lacking a potential tie-breaker among its remaining eight members. As a result, any rulings that could affect who wins the White House are likely to be issued sometime after the November election.

Other voting rights cases likely to reach the Supreme Court include a dispute over a North Carolina law that requires a photo ID, eliminates same-day registration and reduces the number of days available for early voting. The Supreme Court allowed the restrictions during a 2014 election despite dissents from Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. The lingering controversy brought them back to the federal appeals court.

Voting rights cases in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama are propelled largely by growing outrage against illegal immigration. Each of the states requires proof of citizenship before someone can register to vote, which has prompted opposition from civil rights activists.

In Ohio, a dispute over eliminating a period known as Golden Week still is pending in federal court but could make it to the Supreme Court soon. Golden Week allows voters to register and vote on the same day. The Supreme Court ruled previously by a 5-to-4 margin that the state could abolish Golden Week for the 2014 vote but the decision did not ease the controversy.

A Backlash Against Voter ID Law Restrictions

A Backlash Against Voter ID Law Restrictions
A Backlash Against Voter ID Law Restrictions

Are Voter ID Laws A Good Idea?

Should states be allowed to restrict voter registration only to residents with government-issued identification cards?

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    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor 

      2 years ago

      When you live in a world where you can do virtually nothing without an ID, who in their right mind would think that having an ID to vote would infringe upon anyone's freedom or right to vote. There is only one untold reason why Democrats oppose voter IDs and that is because they know that they can and do commit voter fraud throughout the country from local elections to national ones whereever it is illegal to ask for a voter ID. And here is the proof of that:

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      2 years ago from USA

      I guess I have lived a little in the dark all my life. I have never thought it was an imposition to provide my photo I.D. at the voting polls. I just figured if it is a requirement to have I.D., no matter who you are - rich, poor, etc. then get the dang I.D. and vote... or don't vote. Whatever! I think we try too hard to "protect" certain classes of people when the truth is, a lot of times, it has nothing to do with whether or not they can get I.D. they simply choose not to get I.D. for whatever their personal reasons are. And then, if they fall into a certain class of people, the statistics come out to indicate that, somehow, their rights have been violated. I know people who don't have their I.D. simply because they don't want to make the effort to get it. Or, I suspect some of them are here illegally and can't get I.D. I don't ask. But then, when it comes time to vote they are not allowed to vote, because, where I live, we have to provide proof of identity. No problem, "I've got my photo I.D. right here!"

    • Tom Ramstack profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Ramstack 

      2 years ago from Washington, D.C.

      That's exactly what the ACLU is saying. Nevertheless, the Republican stance requiring government-issued identification still has traction in many parts of the United States.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      In 2011 the Republican National Lawyers Association published a report revealing that there had been only 400 election fraud prosecutions over the previous decade nationwide. That works out to NOT EVEN ONE such verified instance of voter fraud per state per year.

      When the voter ID bill pushed through by Republicans in the state of Pennsylvania was challenged in court, the state was forced to admit the following in its court filing:

      “There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”

      Voter ID laws, all passed by Republican-led legislatures, are not about election fraud. Voter impersonation fraud, the only kind that is addressed by ID laws, is practically unknown in the U. S., so the imposition of these laws cannot reduce it - zero is as low as you can get.

      Rather, the real intent of these laws was revealed by Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai during the 2012 presidential election. Boasting of GOP accomplishments during the legislative session, Turzai said:

      “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

      You can see video of Turzai's statement at

      It is well known that voter ID laws reduce the vote levels of parts of the population most likely to vote Democratic. That's what Voter ID is all about.

    • Tom Ramstack profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Ramstack 

      2 years ago from Washington, D.C.

      Therein lies the controversy. However, state governments argue that without a requirement of government-issued identification cards, there would be too much voter fraud.

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 

      2 years ago from > California

      To my knowledge, there is no EXPLICIT nor Implied Language within the the U.S. Constitution that states an I.D. is a Pre-Requisite to Voting ~


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