Court ID Decision Burden to Students

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board upholds an Indiana state law that requires voters to present a state issued photo identification. In a 6 to 3 decision, the Court determined that voter fraud takes precedence over burdens the law places on voters.

The decision is expected to place a disproportionate burden on student voters.

“Young voters are less likely to possess the in-state identification required by Indiana statute,” said Sujatha Jahagirdar, Program Director for the Student PIRG’s New Voters Project. “Young voters looking to vote may thus be turned away from the polls in droves.”

The ruling comes on the heels of youth vote surges throughout the country in the presidential primary contest to date. “Today’s ruling sends a chilling message to young voters who are more energized and excited than ever.”

U.S. PIRG assailed the majority decision saying it will create real problems in order to address perceived ones. A majority of justices accepted Indiana’s argument despite the fact that no evidence of voter fraud in the state’s history was presented.

“Of the billions of votes cast in the last 100 years, the state cited Boss Tweed and a single incident of voter fraud in Washington state to justify new burdens that will disproportionately impact students, seniors, low income and minority voters ,” said Gary Kalman, Director of U.S. PIRG’s Federal Legislative Office.

Kalman went on to note that justices and other photo ID supporters who compare identification requirements for cashing a check or renting a video with voting are missing a larger issue.  “If I can’t rent a video because of I lack identification it may be unfortunate, but wrongfully denying an eligible voter their right to vote is a far greater concern,” concluded Kalman.

Despite these new hurdles, U.S.PIRG and the New Voter’s Project will continue to fight for policies that ensure fair and open elections and work to engage students and other young people in the electoral process.