[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday that Arizona can enforce a new law [PDF] requiring voters to show government-issued ID cards [JURIST news archive] at the polls for the November elections, reversing a decision [text, PDF; JURIST report] rendered earlier this month by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website]. In a per curiam opinion, the court said:
The election procedures implemented . . . do not necessarily result in the turning away of qualified, registered voters by election officials for lack of proper identification. A voter who arrives at the polls on election day without identification may cast a conditional provisional ballot [and] is allowed five business days to return . . . and present proper identification.
In a separate concurrence, Justice John Paul Stevens suggested that "Allowing the election to proceed without enjoining the statutory provisions at issue will provide the courts with a better record on which to judge their constitutionality." Opponents of the law have called it a “21st century poll tax,” since it requires people to purchase photo ID cards. Proponents say it prevents illegal immigrants from casting ballots. AP has more.
Similar laws have been proposed in other states this year in preparation for November voting. Earlier this week the Missouri Supreme Court struck down a law [JURIST report] requiring voters to show ID cards at the polls. Similar voter ID laws have been upheld in Indiana and blocked in Georgia and Pennsylvania [JURIST reports]. Before the end of the 109th Congress the US House of Representatives approved a bill that would require voter ID cards for federal elections [JURIST report] starting in 2008. No such measure passed the Senate, however.