Will id requirements sway Indiana voters?

April 28, 2008 7:39:02 PM PDT
In next week's Indiana primary, voters will have to show government issued photo identification before they can cast a ballot for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter id law. Some Democrats and civil rights groups say this will discourage poor, older, and minority voters from casting ballots.

Backers of the voter id law say it's needed to deter fraud. There wasn't much evidence to support either contention at the Supreme Court. The importance of this decision, right now, is how it will impact the May 6th primary.

Indiana's law, requiring voters to show a government issued photo id, was passed three years ago. In general, it's been supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. On Monday, the National Democratic Party Chairman called it an attempt, by Republicans, to keep people from voting.

"These laws make it harder for older people to vote they make it harder for low income people to vote, including members of minority communities, and that's what the laws are designed to do. They have not been passed by Democratic legislatures. They've only been passed by Republicans," says Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean.

But in the May 6th primary, it's Democrat Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama and it's not clear that Monday's decision will effect that race.

"Clinton tends to get working class folks, who may or may not have id's, and Obama tends to get African Americans who may or may not have id's," says U.C. Berkeley Professor Henry Brady, Ph.D.

Brady suspects it's going to be a very small number either way and ABC7's political analyst says, if it's close between Clinton and Obama, we'll already know the winner.

"A close race in Indiana is a victory for Obama. What Hillary Clinton needs is to win and to win convincingly in Indiana, and the margin we're talking about, with respect to these voter id laws, is way too small to make a difference in that race," says Professor Bruce Cain.

In Indiana, there have been seven elections since the voter id law was passed. The state is offering free photo id's to any resident who doesn't have a drivers license and Indiana radio talk show host and political commentator, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, says there is one more factor.

"Even if somebody forgets their id, they can still, in Indiana, cast a provisional ballot, go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles get an id and go back to the County Clerks Office within 10 days and still have their vote still count."

On Monday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said "the court's decision places obstacles to the fundamental rights of American citizens, especially the poor, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities."

Senator Dianne Feinstein said if this law is enforced in a presidential election, she's afraid we will see many, otherwise qualified, voters turned away at the polls.

Our experts all tell us a similar voter id law has no chance of passing in California as long as Democrats control the State Legislature.


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