If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably heard something about Indiana’s Voter ID law being headed to the United States Supreme Court.
Indiana has the strictest voter ID law in the country. If we cut through the crap and the posturing, the issue is basically this – the Republicans who passed this law want to suppress voter turnout in the populations who might have trouble producing an ID – those people are more likely to vote for Democrats. The pretext for the law is that it is necessary to combat voter fraud. However, there is no evidence that any such voter fraud was a problem. In fact, where there has been some problem with voter fraud — absentee voting — the General Assembly didn’t take any action. Absentee voters tend to vote Republican, not coincidentally.
Democrats oppose the Voter ID challenge, not necessarily out of any inherent sense of righteousness about the right to vote (though many individual Democrats I’m sure feel that way), but more practically because this law is more likely to reduce the number of votes they get. For whatever reason, the populations who are most distrustful of government documents and who are less sophisticated about obtaining and retaining documentation are more likely to vote for Democrats. Some of this is theoretical, there isn’t apparently hard evidence about how many people are discouraged from voting because of the additional bureaucracy imposed on their right to vote.
So, the question is (in my mind) first, who should have the burden of proof — should the proponents have to prove that this additional bit of red-tape corrects an actual problem? Or, should the opponents have to prove that the additional bit of red-tape actually hurts anybody? I’d go with the first option. When the government chooses to interfere with a Constitutional right, it ought to show that the interference is necessary to correct an actual (rather than theoretical) problem and as minimally burdensome as possible to fix the problem.
But, nobody has appointed me to a court, so my opinion isn’t worth that much.