In a decision that was virtually unnoticed in the media (imagine the stories if the holding had been different), the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of Georgia’s voter ID law on January 14 in Common Cause v. Handel. A three-judge panel compared the requirement for a voter to show a photo ID to the modern “burden of air travel in contemporary society.” Before you can board an airplane, you have to present to a federal official an identification card with a photograph. As the Court said, the “burden of that exercise assists the federal government in keeping passengers safe from physical harm.” The Georgia case concerned whether a state could use that same kind of exercise to safeguard “one of our most fundamental civil rights: the right to vote.” The NAACP disputed that Georgia had set forth any relevant and legitimate state interests sufficient to justify the limitation imposed by the photo ID requirement. However, the 11th Circuit disagreed, citing the Supreme Court’s finding in the Indiana photo ID decision that a state “indisputably has a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of its election process.”
The 11th Circuit found that the burden imposed on Georgia voters by this photo ID requirement was “not undue or significant,” and the NAACP was “unable to direct this Court to any admissible and reliable evidence that quantifies the extent and scope of the burden imposed by the Georgia statute.” In other words, the plaintiffs were unable to present any evidence of any individuals who either did not already have an ID or could not easily get one. In fact, two of the witnesses presented by the NAACP as supposedly not being able to vote because of the law both testified “that they could and would obtain a free photo identification with little difficulty.” The data relied on by the NAACP was so faulty that the district court judge who originally upheld the law erroneously appeared on the NAACP’s data match list as supposedly not having a driver’s license.
We can only hope that this common sense solution to improving the integrity of our elections will be implemented by more states, and that organizations like the NAACP will stop wasting taxpayer dollars litigating to block something that is overwhelmingly supported by voters, black and white alike. It is also hard to understand why the NAACP seems intent on enabling voter fraud when the evidence so overwhelming disproves its stated theory that the photo requirement is any sort of burden