September 06, 2007

Breaking News: Trial Court Dismisses Challenge to Georgia Voter ID Law

The AJC blog reports the news, and provides links to the judge's decision in two parts (here and here).

I have not had a chance to look at this in any detail yet, but apparently the judge held that all of the plaintiffs had standing problems (pages 120-131 of the opinion). He then turned to the merits out of an abundance of caution. Applying the Burdick sliding scale standard (see page 140, we'll see if Chris Elmendorf thinks the judge really applied Burdick), the court found that the burden on voters was not onerous: it was not that difficult to get the i.d., or to vote absentee. (141-52) The court distinguished the facts from when it granted the preliminary injunction barring the use of the voter id law in the 2006 elections.

Turning then to state interests, the court relied upon the unfortunate statement of the Supreme Court from Purcell v. Gonzalez about the need to balance disnefranchisement with the feeling of disenfranchisement that could come from knowing there is voter fraud going on. (My criticism of this point is Part III of this draft).

Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's arguments that there was not enough proof of actual fraud to justify this law, noting that it was judging this question under a deferential rational basis standard rather than a strict scrutiny standard.

I would suppose this ruling will be appealed, and any resolution may depend in part on whether the Supreme Court grants cert. in the pending Indiana voter id case, Rokita.

Posted by Rick Hasen at September 6, 2007 12:49 PM