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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nun Too Keen to Vote

Many of you may remember our objections to the Indiana voter identification law on the basis that it would potentially disenfranchise thousands of American citizens who have a constitutional right to vote for their elected officials. Conservatives countered these arguments by saying that the law was simply a common sense safeguard against potential voter fraud. Besides, they argued, there is little evidence that these laws would prevent significant numbers of voters from casting their ballots.

In a March blog entry, we countered this argument, which was clearly not based on any empirical research by providing an example concerning former Indiana Congresswoman Julia Carson. In 2006, the late Rep. Carson attempted to cast a ballot in the mid-term elections by using her Congressional identification card as proof of eligibility. Unfortunately, because the ID cards issued by the United States House of Representatives do not include a photo, Ms. Carson was turned away. We argued at the time that if Indiana’s law was so restrictive that even a member of Congress couldn’t vote, imagine the difficulties an average citizen would face.

Well, it turns out we were right. Following last month’s Supreme Court decision to uphold Indiana’s restrictive law, hundreds of residents were unable to participate in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Perhaps the most upsetting example included a group of octogenarian nuns. The Los Angeles Times reported that, “The nuns, all residents of a retirement home at Saint Mary's Convent near Notre Dame University, were denied ballots by a fellow sister and poll worker because the women, in their 80s and 90s, did not have valid Indiana photo ID cards.”

We can see why the state of Indiana would need this law. Who hasn’t heard stories about their local nunneries participating in scandalous election tampering schemes?

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