Posted by: bridget | 20 September 2006

Georgia Voting Rights

A state superiour court judge in Georgia has overturned a law that requires voters to show identification at the polls. Judge Bedford reasoned that, “No where in the Constitution is the legislature authorized to deny a registered voter the right to vote on any other ground, including a possession of a photo ID.”

Perhaps Judge Bedford should take a look at the Constitution in which he finds rights to vote as dead people. Nothing in it even reqiures states to hold elections, let alone dictates how the state must run such elections. It is a bedrock principle of civilisation that the government must conduct its affairs in an orderly manner; preventing voter fraud, so that we need not be reduced to voting via a show of hands, certainly qualifies.

It was only the Voting Rights Act of 1965, recently reauthorized (most likely unconstitutionally, as states are free to conduct their elections as they wish, absent extreme circumstances), that allowed any sort of federal intrusion into the state’s voting processes, which had been the sole province of the states for nearly two hundred years prior.

Twenty-four US states (barely the minority) have requirements that voters show some form of identification. Today, the House will consider if all voters should be required to show proof of citizenship.

Is Judge Bedford saying that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from ensuring fairness and truth in its electoral process? Every restriction on government power has exceptions; the Supreme Court is willing to recognize that “Congress shall make no law…” allows Congress to make laws which are narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest. Here, there is no violation of “equal protection of the laws;” citizens are still allowed to vote, and all must pass the same (low) hurdle to vote – i.e. proving who they are.

By this logic, is it now inappropriate for a state to require that school children provide records of immunizations and some proof of age (many states have minimum and maximum ages between which children may be in public school), because such documentation burdens the fundamental right to an education?

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