NAKASEC statement: “Supreme Court Photo ID Ruling A Disgrace to Democracy”

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2008

Contacts:
EunSook Lee, NAKASEC, 323-937-3703, ext. 205
HyunJoo Lee, NAKASEC, 323 -937-3703, ext. 202

Supreme Court Photo ID Ruling A Disgrace to Democracy

NAKASEC and its affiliate centers join fellow civil rights organizations in their deep disappointment and dismay at the U.S. Supreme Court 6-3 ruling to reject a challenge to Indiana’s unfair and discriminatory photo ID law on April 28, 2008. Just one week prior to Indiana’s state primary, the ruling will allow the state to demand photo identification from voters before they cast their vote.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice and New York University School of Law, as many as 11 percent of Americans – more than 21 million U.S. citizens – do not have a current government-issued photo ID. Elderly, poor and minority Americans are more likely to lack government-issued ID. Furthermore, Rock the Vote found in a recent poll that 19% of 18-29 year olds lack a government-issued photo ID and estimates that this ruling will disenfranchise 1 out of 5 youth voters.

“In a year where we have seen record voter turnout across the country from all walks of life, it is a disgrace that the Supreme Court has failed to consider the serious concerns of voter disenfranchisement,” said EunSook Lee, Executive Director, NAKASEC.

Voter fraud has been stated as the reason for this law; however there has been no evidence that voter fraud is even a prevalent problem in Indiana. The Supreme Court further stated that there was not one instance of voter fraud in Indiana. Photo ID laws claim to address non-existent problems while creating new ones such as creating a barrier to poor voters and voters of color who do not have government-issued photo ID.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is a dangerous precedent and has left the door wide open for similar challenges in other states leading up to the November elections. There are currently 24 states that require voters to show some form of identification and seven specify photo ID. Already this year, another 14 states have bills seeking strict voter ID requirements pending before their legislatures, seven of which require individuals to prove their citizenship status at the time they register to vote.

NAKASEC and its affiliates signed onto an amicus brief filed earlier by the Asian American Legal and Defense Fund in the Supreme Court and will continue to oppose restrictive measures that erect barriers to civic engagement, rather than empower communities.