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?

FILED UNDER: 2006 Election, Democracy, Law and the Courts, Supreme Court, US Constitution, , , , , , , , , , ,
Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.


  1. Derrick says:

    Unfortunately, the Voter ID is a political mechanism with the intension of supressing a large turnout. Your compromise makes perfect sense to me, but I doubt that the Republcan party will ever be in favor of any relaxing of restrictions like Saturday voting, same day registration or National holidays for voting days. I wish that this was in the interest of preserving the purpose of voting for elections, but I honestly don’t believe that its the case.

  2. Well Derrick, that’s funny, I thought opposition to voter ID is a political mechanism with the intention to allow as much fraud as possible to continue so long as it benefits Democrats. Oh, you can howl if you want, but I live in St. Louis where this exact problem runs rampant in every single election. But I’ll do you the courtesy of not impugning your motives and assuming that you are willing to sacrifice the integrity of elections for victory as you do so easily with the folks who don’t happen to share your particular political positions.

    It’s tough to call someone ugly all week and then expect them to go to the dance with you on Saturday. Do you really expect to be able to reach a solution with people you accuse of wickedness at the drop of a hat? Maybe, just maybe, there are points on both sides, just as there are unreasonable hotheads who wish to lie, cheat and steal at every opportunity on both sides. A focus on fixing the problem rather than affixing the blame will stand a better chance of implementing a solution that respects the process and the people it is meant to serve. Or we can just talk past each other and call each other names.

    Your call.

  3. floyd says:

    voter registration is the responsibility of the voter. the address of the registrar in your area should be published in the phone book along with the phone#. if you can’t anticipate and election by 30days and show up at the polling place on election day, then you don’t need to vote! legitimate LIMITED extenuating circumstances should allow for absentee ballots.[I.E. public or military service,]

  4. Just Me says:

    Some states already have same day registrations. I live in New Hampshire, and we have same day registrations, although at registration you are required to have if I recall some form of acceptable ID and a utility bill to prove residency.

    I don’t really have an issue with same day registration. I have huge issues with there not being any requirement to prove that you are who you say you are beyond giving a name. Once I was registered I have never been asked to provide any information to prove who I was-I can see heavy potential for fraud in these situations-especially in larger cities where the poll workers may not know all the voters by face or name.

    I like the idea of a voting only ID that is free, either way, I want people who are actually eligible to vote to be voting and I want them voting only once.

  5. madmatt says:

    Hey charles youlliar…how many dead people or illegal aliens voted in st louis…provide us with one example…then lets look at voting machine based disenfranchisement!

  6. McGehee says:

    Hey charles youlliar

    James, how does this stand WRT comment policy?

  7. madmatt, where you to ask civilly I could respond with endless documented exmaples that have resulted in people going to jail, federal interventions, and the like. But since I doubt you have an open mind about such matters, you’ll just have to spend the eight seconds required to Google these stories yourself.

  8. G A Phillips says:

    Madmatt, unlike what your donkey leaders have told you since birth I’m sorry but the truth is not the definition of a lie, check your dictionary, oh I’m sorry that won’t help you because you have been trained to change words and their meanings as you read them, dude, like your under a form of mind control called donkytism and I’m afraid all I can do is pray for you until such a time as the great leader “Bush the 2ND” gets the much needed reeducation camps going, till then feel free to vote as many time as you want and keep standing your noble stand against every thing that is right and true, till such a time as we have the means and facilities to help you.

  9. And dogs. Don’t forget that dogs were registered to vote in the 2000 general election in St. Louis. And yes, madmatt, it is in fact well documented.

  10. Greg D says:

    I don’t like your “compromise”.

    1: Anyone who cares so little about voting that he / she couldn’t be bothered to register ahead of time isn’t qualified to vote.

    2: We don’t have forgery-proof ids. Requiring people to register ahead of time gives anti-fraud efforts a chance to catch the fakes.

    3: This is not an area where there should be any compromise. The Republicans need to push this on a national level, and repeatedly point out that the Democrats are acting as the party of vote fraud.

    It’s a win – win. Hurt the Democrats politically (continually point out that the Democrats are the party of vote fraud), Help the Republicans (since they are the party of honest elections), and eventually get the right thing done with giving the Party of Fraud anything.