Citing new evidence that Indiana's voter identification law is disenfranchising thousands of Indiana voters, lawyers at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and a coalition of voting rights organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief today urging the U.S. Supreme Court to scuttle the Indiana law. The brief is one of more than 20 amicus briefs being filed today by voting rights advocates, current and former Secretaries of State, law professors, historians, political scientists, student organizations, labor unions and civic, religious and civil rights organizations. A full list of amici and a summary of their briefs is available here.
The Brennan Center's brief comes as new research, also released today from the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality, is providing the first direct evidence that Indiana's voter identification law is disenfranchising thousands of Indiana voters, especially African-American and low-income voters as well as senior citizens and students.
"The state of Indiana has the most stringent voter identification law in the country. This study makes clear that their law - rather than preventing fraud - is actually disenfranchising substantial numbers of Indiana voters," said Michael Waldman, the Brennan Center's executive director.
The Washington Institute Study
In October 2007, researchers fielded a statewide telephone survey of Indiana registered voters. The sample included a random statewide component and oversamples of African-American and low-income populations. The two oversamples were targeted based on population patterns at the census tract level. A second sample of non-registered voting age Indiana citizens was done by random digit dialing. The study encompassed responses from interviews with 1,000 registered voters and 500 interviews among non-registered adults.
The results were clear and striking. As the researchers wrote in their report, "In short we find strong statistical differences with respect to access to valid photo identification that significantly reduces the opportunity to vote for minority, low-income, less-educated, and young and old residents of Indiana."
Among the key findings:
- 21.8% of black Indiana voters do not have access to a valid photo ID (compared to 15.8% of white Indiana voters - a 6 point gap).
- When non-registered eligible voter responses are included - the gap widens. 28.3% of eligible black voters in the State of Indiana to not have valid photo ID (compared to 16.8% of eligible voting age white Indiana residents - a gap of 11.5 percent).
- The study found what it termed "a curvilinear pattern (similar to an upside down U-curve)" in the relationship between age and access to valid ID - younger voters and older voters were both less likely to have valid ID compared to voters in the middle categories. 22% of voters 18-34 did not have ID, nor did 19.4% over the age of 70. (compared to 16.2% of Indiana voters age 35-54 without valid ID and 14.1% for 55-69 year olds).
- 21% of Indiana registered voters with only a high school diploma did not have valid ID (compared to 11.5% of Indiana voters who have completed college - a gap of 9.5%).
- Those with valid ID are much more likely to be Republicans than those who do not have valid ID. Among registered voters with proper ID, 41.6% are registered Republicans, 32.5% are Democrats.