An increasing number of voters in the US are now required to show a photo ID to vote. Eight states have “strict” ID laws, and several more are considering similar rules: no proof, no vote. Critics argue that minorities, immigrants, and the poor are less likely to have photo IDs and are effectively being disenfranchised. Indiana was among the first states to pass a voter ID law back in 2005. If you ask Indianapolis attorney Tom Wheeler, who works with the Republican Party and Republican candidates, whether the law was necessary, he brings up the 2003 Democratic mayoral primary in East Chicago, Indiana. “The fraud was so bad, that the (Indiana) Supreme Court couldn’t even figure out who won the race,” said Wheeler. But ask Bill Groth, a lawyer who often represents Democratic Party interests, and he’ll give you a different slant. “The state of Indiana later stipulated that there was not a single recorded prosecution for imposter voting fraud in the history of the state,” said Groth. So which man is lying? Neither.
The courts found extensive voter fraud in in East Chicago, but with absentee ballots. Rumors of in-person fraud were rampant there as well, as well as in other Indiana cities.
The Republican-controlled state legislature used the situation to help pass Indiana’s voter ID requirement for in-person voting — it does not cover absentee ballots. The law got challenged all the way up to the US Supreme Court, which ultimately upheld the law ruling that voter fraud did pose a risk in the Hoosier state.
Bill Groth, the lead attorney for state Democrats, argued the real risk was disenfranchising voters. His legal team hired a statistician who estimated between 8 and 23 percent of registered voters in greater Indianapolis lacked proper IDs.
“But the district court judge, didn’t agree with his methodology, and basically disregarded his entire conclusion,” Groth said.