Supremes Allow Arizona Voter ID Law
In a decision that may have nationwide implications, the Supreme Court has vacated a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals injunction that stopped Arizona from enforcing its new voter ID provision–a decision at odds with recent court decisions regarding other states’ voter ID laws, including Missouri’s, which is not likely to be affected directly by this decision, as my home state’s decision rests on state, not federal, constitutional provisions.
I leave the legal analysis to Orin Kerr and Rick Hasen; the more interesting angle to me is whether or not a viable compromise between the Republican and Democratic positions on voter ID is possible. As the Supreme Court’s decision states:
Confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy. Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised…. Countering the State’s compelling interest in preventing voter fraud is the plaintiffs’ strong interest in exercising the ‘fundamental political right’ to vote.
It seems to me that a viable approach to balancing both considerations is a strong voter ID requirement (albeit one that requires that IDs valid for voting purposes only be issued gratis by the state,to avoid the 24th Amendment and Voting Rights Act poll tax issues) combined with a relaxation of registration requirements, so any voter with sufficient ID to vote will be allowed to register on the same day and cast a provisional ballot that will be counted when the voter’s eligibility is verified. This would allow the parties and associated interest groups to focus their resources on Get Out the Vote efforts rather than expending time and money on registration efforts, while reducing the potential for fraudulent and lost registrations inherent in having canvassers solicit voter registrations.
Democrats would benefit from increased voter turnout due to lower hurdles to voter registration, while Republicans would get an assurance that new registrations would be handled by election officials and accompanied by verifiable identification. What’s not to love?