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Indiana appeals court declares state voter identification law unconstitutional

[JURIST] The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that the state's voter identification requirement is unconstitutional. The provision, section IC 3-11-8-25.1 [text] of the Indiana Code, required individuals who wished to cast an official ballot in person to show identification prior to doing so. The challenge was brought by the League of Women Voters [advocacy website] following a 2008 US Supreme Court decision upholding the law [JURIST report]. The three-judge panel reversed a dismissal at the trial court level, holding that presentation of photo identification was a procedural regulation, rather than an impermissible voting qualification, but that the law violated the Indiana constitution's Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause [text] by not requiring those who submit mail-in ballots, or those who reside at state-licensed care facilities that also happen to be polling places, to present identification:

It seems that the inconsistent and impartial treatment favoring voters who reside at state care facilities which also happen to be polling places could be excised from the Voter I.D. Law without destroying the primary objectives of the Law. However, the same cannot be said for the inconsistent and partial treatment favoring absentee voters who choose to mail their votes without destroying the opportunity for mailing votes.

Following the ruling, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita released a statement [text] condemning the persistent litigation, and said that the state will seek immediate appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Voter rights is a contentious issue that has been the subject of widespread litigation in the US. In early July, a coalition of advocacy groups filed suit [JURIST report] against Indiana and New Mexico, alleging that both states violate the "Motor Voter Act" [text] by not providing voter registration cards at public assistance agencies. In June, the US Department of Justice rejected a Georgia practice [JURIST report] that would use driver's license and Social Security databases to identify voters. In October 2008, a federal court enjoined [opinion, PDF] Georgia from using that same practice in elections. In January of this year, however, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Georgia voting law [JURIST report] that, like the law at issue in Indiana, required voters to present government-issued identification in order to vote.

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