Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 20, 2013

Of voters' own accord

Kokomo Tribune

---- — The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s voter ID law on Monday.

In a 7-2 ruling, justices said Arizona’s requirement of proof of citizenship during voter registration is unconstitutional.

In a nutshell, the court said states constitutionally cannot introduce rules that supercede federal law. U.S. residents already are required to affirm they are citizens on a voter application form under the National Voter Registration Act.

Justices said nothing about requiring voters to show poll workers government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot.

For the last seven years, Hoosier voters have been required to produce a state- or federally issued photo ID at the polls. Locally, the ID requirement hasn’t been a problem.

In fact, only 1 of the nearly 11,000 people who voted in the Howard County primary in May 2006 — the first election under Indiana’s voter ID law — didn’t have the required ID. And that person cast a provisional ballot, then-Clerk Mona Myers told us.

Then-county Democratic Party chairman Mike Kennedy anticipated voting problems that May, “but I thought the day went well,” he said after the primary. Other Democrats throughout Indiana, however, disputed the positive assessments. They believed a more accurate picture of the effects of the voter ID law would come into view after the general election that year.

Again, there were no reports of problems in Howard County. Since 2006, no local election has been marred by widespread disenfranchisement of potential voters by poll workers.

The right to vote is precious. So we were more than a little sceptical of Pennsylvania’s last-minute requirement of government-issued photo ID prior to the 2012 presidential election. A judge stayed its implementation because many Keystone State residents had little time to obtain the needed identification before the November vote.

That’s a problem. But a bigger issue in Indiana is that Hoosiers locally and elsewhere choose not to cast a ballot.

Voter turnout for the Howard County primary of 2006 was just 17.9 percent. Thousands of registered voters didn’t make it to the polls even last November, and hundreds of residents haven’t bothered to register, despite the ability to do so at nearly every government office in the county.

Too many Hoosiers already are disenfranchised of their own accord. That should be of greater concern to both parties than the long-standing voter ID laws of Indiana and other states.