The expected is happening. After the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed a key provision in the Voting Rights Act, a number of GOP-led states quickly moved to restrict access to the polls by passing or strengthening voter identification laws. Critics say the new rules disproportionately affect minorities, including the elderly. Supporters say they are protecting the integrity of elections against fraud. On paper, both are legitimate goals, but as staked out in this debate, both can’t coexist legally. It’s a job for federal courts. If I had judicial authority, based on what I know now the decision would be easy. The new rules in Texas and North Carolina and Florida are an unconstitutional interference with voting rights.
My decisions would be based on the lack of evidence of fraud as justification for photo identification and other hindrance rules. A right-minded judge — and I certainly would fit that description — would say the Constitution ensures unfettered access to the polls, only to be mitigated with obvious, well-founded and rare rules to the contrary.
Nobody tries to argue photo ID and other additional requirements are not additional hurdles; they say the hurdles are justified to protect against fraud. But their argument is done in by credible evidence the hurdles disproportionately interfere with voting among blacks, Hispanics, young people, students and the elderly, coupled with a lack of similarly persuasive evidence of fraud that in any way justifies the new rules.
The burden of proof in my court would be on the perpetrators of new rules to show why they are constitutionally justifiable. That they are obviously attempting to quash traditional Democratic voters would not be the central legal issue but certainly explains Republican political motivation.