Backstory: Voter ID Laws and the 2012 Election

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court vacated a ruling earlier this summer that had upheld the state’s Voter ID law. On this week’s Backstory, Richard Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California Irvine School of Law, talks about how Pennsylvania is just the latest state where Voter ID laws are being challenged or struck down. And we’ll find out what that means for the election in November.


Richard Hasen

Comments [1]

Neal Taslitz, Esq. from Palm Beach County, Florida

Please ask Richard Hasen to comment on how the Americans with Disabilities Act can be used to provide reasonable accommodations to those qualified disabled "would be voters" who cannot wait in long lines which will be common in Florida and other states in the presidential election.

The lead case in the Supreme Court is Tennessee v Lane, when the Court ruled 5 to 4 that Tennessee violated the ADA by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled person to enable him to get into the court house with assistance rather than crawling up a large number of steps.

Seniors who may not have voted by absentee ballot or early voting which has limited locations will now be more likely to have to wait outside in long lines in hot or rainy weather in Florda, and cold weather in northern states. A reasonable accommodation would be to have a special line for the disabled so that they do not have to wait more than 15 minutes.

The line that requires Florida residents without a driver's license to get a government issued I.D., is over two hours for many in Palm Beach County, and over an hour even if they made an appointment because staff has been cut as a result of lower budgets for the government agencies. If an elderly person does not have a drivers license they are likely to be disabled, and need reasonable accommodations.

Those who do not have proper identification will likely be denied the right to vote in the general election.

Disabled people need to bring a doctor's indicating that because of their disability they could not wait in a long line, and need to have accommodations at both the county clerks office to avoid long lines as well as at the voting polls. If they are denied accommodations they need to immediately report the problem to the authorities, or the legal team of their presidential candidate.

Even if the laws restricting early voting days, and additional identification are still in place, the ADA trumps those requirements according to Tennessee v. Lane. As the Court clearly indicated in the case fundamental rights which include access to the judicial system as a defendant and by implication the right to vote ( a fundamental right)obligate states to make reasonable accommodations to allow people to exercise those rights to the disabled.

Thank you.

Neal Taslitz

Sep. 20 2012 01:22 PM

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