Georgia Voter-ID Law Upheld

by Hans A. von Spakovsky

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the state’s photo-ID voting requirement today in a 6–1 vote. The court threw out a challenge that the photo-ID requirement 1) imposed an unauthorized qualification on the fundamental right of registered Georgia voters to vote and 2) denied equal protection by unduly burdening the right to vote under the state’s constitution.

Democratic Party of Georgia v. Perdue was the last outstanding legal hurdle for the Georgia law, which has now been in place for more than five years. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the statute in 2009 against challenges under the U.S. Constitution and federal voting-rights laws (the U.S. Supreme Court denied review). The U.S. Supreme Court similarly upheld Indiana’s photo-ID law against constitutional attack in 2008, as did the Indiana Supreme Court in 2010. A key element in all of these cases, including this latest one: None of the plaintiffs could produce any voters who were actually unable to vote because of the ID requirements.

Although I served as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission in a recess appointment, one of the main reasons I was never confirmed to a regular term as a commissioner was because of my support for photo-ID laws. A certain senator from Illinois who went on to higher office in Washington put a hold on my nomination, specifically criticizing me because I was involved in the Justice Department’s approval of Georgia’s voter-ID law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. I had also committed the unpardonable sin of publishing a law review article “supporting the restriction,” according to then-Sen. Barack Obama. Members of the so-called civil-rights community and senators such as Patrick Leahy and Ted Kennedy were outraged that the Justice Department did not object to Georgia’s law and fought my nomination.

At my confirmation hearing, Sens. Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein questioned my professionalism, my integrity, and my legal judgment over the Justice Department’s approval of Georgia’s voter-ID law. In the end, as this decision by the Georgia Supreme Court and all of the decisions by other courts show, the Bush administration’s legal judgment was correct. To paraphrase former Reagan Labor Department secretary Ray Donovan, which office do I go to get my reputation back (along with an apology)?

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