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Identification, please

The legitimacy of elections is at stake in dispute over voter ID

Issue: "The plots thicken," Jan. 12, 2008

The answer to a cynic's question, "Do elections matter?" may be partially found in the way judges have handled an Indiana voter photo ID law that requires people to prove their identity before they can vote. The Supreme Court will begin 2008 by hearing arguments in one of the most volatile political cases to come before it since Bush v. Gore in 2000.

As The Washington Post noted in a front-page Christmas Day story, deciding the case may depend on where a judge stands politically. Appellate judges named by Republican presidents have mostly favored the ID requirement. Appellate judges named by Democrats have mostly opposed it.

The Post interviewed Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. It summarized his position on the controversy this way: "Hasen does not believe that the [lower court] decisions reflect a desire to aid one political party over another, but rather a philosophical divide on the question of whether protecting the integrity of the voting process from fraud is of equal or greater value than making sure as many eligible voters as possible take part in the process."

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Come again? If potential voters are illegal aliens (or convicted felons, or do not live where they claim) without proper IDs, how can they possibly be "eligible" to vote? How is a voter registrar to determine whether someone is, in fact, eligible without some form of legitimate identification?

The next election, like other recent elections, will determine what kind of judges sit on federal benches as well as how they interpret the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress. If a liberal Democrat wins the White House, more liberal judges will be named to benches and immigration laws-especially voter ID requirements-will not be enforced, producing more votes for Democrats and possibly condemning Republicans to permanent minority status, though immigration will not be the only cause of that.

For the Supreme Court not to uphold the Indiana law would be the ultimate in identity theft. It would legalize voter fraud and might call the legitimacy of future elections into question.

-© 2007 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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