Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Brennan Center on Voting Law Changes

The Brennan Center at NYU recently released a report on the many changes to voting laws that we're seeing in the states--everything from voter ID requirements to cutting back on early voting to beefed up registration requirements.  The results are sobering, with restrictions "fall[ing] most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities."

The Supreme Court made challenges to voter ID laws much more difficult in 2008 in Crawford v. Marion County.  In Crawford, the Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law against a facial equal protection challenge.  The Court said that the law was a neutral voting regulation designed to ensure the integrity of the process, not an infringement on the fundamental right to vote.  When the plaintiffs refiled in state court, an Indiana intermediate appellate court overturned the law under the state constitution, but the Indiana Supreme Court reversed, more-or-less tracking the reasoning in Crawford.  The latest chapter came in Stewart v. Marion County, filed in federal court in the Southern District of Indiana.  But the court dismissed Stewart for lack of standing.  The problem?  Stewart had an ID.

Under Crawford's approach, challenges to any of the restrictions surveyed by the Brennan Center would likely face an uphill battle in court.



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