The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

State News

July 20, 2009

League claims Indiana BMV rules make voting tougher

By CHARLES WILSON

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — New ID requirements for Indiana driver’s licenses will increase the burden already placed on voters by the state’s strict voter ID law, the League of Women Voters says.

Hoosiers must show a government-issued photo ID to vote, usually a driver’s license or state ID card. But starting Jan. 1, they’ll have to present birth certificates, Social Security cards or other documentation proving their identity to get a license or ID card.

The league, which is appealing a Marion County court’s dismissal of a challenge to the voter ID law, said in documents filed Friday with the Indiana Court of Appeals that the requirements recently announced by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will add to the burden the voter ID law already places on groups such the poor and elderly.

“It shouldn’t be this hard to vote. It’s one of our most fundamental rights,” said Karen Celestino-Horseman, one of the attorneys for the league.

Women could be especially affected, the group contends. Women who have been repeatedly married or divorced or hyphenated their names will have to document each name change, the league claims. And older married women, who may keep bills in their husbands’ names, may have trouble providing proof of residency, Celestino-Horseman said.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld the Indiana voter ID law, the nation’s most stringent. The 6-3 decision found that the law was reasonable and did not severely burden voters.

But the league filed another lawsuit in June 2008 alleging the law adds to the voting qualifications outlined in the state constitution. The suit, which names Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita as defendant, also claims changes in voting eligibility can be done only by amending the state constitution.

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