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Documenting Disfranchisement: Voter Identification at Indiana's 2008 General Election


Michael J. Pitts


Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Matthew D. Neumann


Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis

September 1, 2009

Journal of Law and Politics, Vol. 25, No. 3, Summer 2009

Abstract:     
This article presents and examines previously unavailable data regarding the extent to which Indiana’s photo identification requirement prevented prospective voters from casting a countable ballot at the 2008 general election. The article presents research that shows more than a thousand persons went to the polls and cast a provisional ballot due to a lack of valid identification and that the vast majority of those provisional ballots went uncounted. Thus, this research helps fill a gap in the plaintiffs’ case in Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd, 128 S. Ct. 1610 (2008) where the plaintiffs challenging photo identification were criticized for their failure to generate firm evidence of disfranchisement. In addition, when viewed in conjunction with previous research from Indiana’s 2008 primary election, this research provides the first opportunity to search for trends in the operation of photo identification. Moreover, the research presented here allows for a comparison of the impact of Indiana’s voter identification law with the impact of voter identification laws in other States and shows Indiana to be among the Nation’s leaders in rejecting provisional ballots for lack of valid identification. Finally, the research presented here has implications for the larger debate generated by Yale’s Heather Gerken about creating a Democracy Index that leads to data-driven election reform because it demonstrates the barriers to gathering data about photo identification and, therefore, highlights what might be a significant hurdle to creating a viable, credible Democracy Index.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 47

Keywords: photo ID, voter ID, democracy, elections, voting rights, Crawford, Democracy Index, provisional ballots

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Date posted: September 8, 2009 ; Last revised: February 18, 2012

Suggested Citation

Pitts, Michael J. and Neumann, Matthew D., Documenting Disfranchisement: Voter Identification at Indiana's 2008 General Election (September 1, 2009). Journal of Law and Politics, Vol. 25, No. 3, Summer 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1465529

Contact Information

Michael J. Pitts (Contact Author)
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )
530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

Matthew D. Neumann
Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis ( email )
Lawrence W. Inlow Hall
530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States
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