FACTS: An Indiana statute of 2005 required voters voting in person to produce a photo ID on the election day. In case a voter failed to meet this requirement and wanted their votes counted, then they had to cast a provisional ballot and then visit a specified government office (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) within ten days and get one. Another option would be to produce documentation from the Bureau stating that they could not afford a photo ID. For voters who had religious objections to being photographed, they were required to cast a provisional ballot and then sign an affidavit before a court clerk within ten days.
HOLDING: (vote 6-3) A statute requiring voters to show their ID before they are allowed to take part in the voting process is constitutional. It is a minimal burden that does not impose undue burden on one’s constitutional right to vote.
MAJORITY REASONING: Justice John Paul Stevens, (joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy)
Rule: He was of the opinion that burdens placed on voters are limited to a small percentage of the population and were often driven by a state’s quest to minimize fraud, modernizing elections and safeguard voter confidence. The state was right in trying to protect its interests of integrity and reliability of the voting process. The fact that a voter had to visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to fill documents and pose for a photograph was not a substantial burden to the fundamental right to vote. Furthermore, these cards were totally free of charge and therefore the statute did not discriminate against those who were not financially able. In addition, the fact that the law allowed for provisional voting that was to be counted on proof of affidavit further mitigated this burden and as such, served to protect the voting rights of individuals who could not easily obtain birth certificates.
Justice Scalia joined by Justices Thomas and Alito concurred with the above opinion.He reasoned that the petitioner’s argument that the statute may have imposed special burden on some voters was irrelevant. He felt that the law had to be upheld as its overall burden was minimal and justified given the fact that acquiring, possessing and showing a photo ID was not a significant increase over the usual voting requirements.
DISSENT: Justice Souter (joined by Justice Ginsburg)
He filed a dissenting opinion aimed at declaring the ID laws unconstitutional. According to him, Indiana should have produced actual evidence of the fraud they meant to curb instead of relying on fictitious claims. It should have found compelling and concrete justifications before imposing unreasonable and irrelevant burden on voters.
Justice Stephen Breyer also dissented arguing that though he approved of some of the ID laws, he found the process of acquiring an ID too burdensome especially for older voters.
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