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League of Women Voters of Indiana v. Rokita

Indiana's Top Court Refuses to Strike Down Restrictive Voter ID Law

AARP's Brief

AARP's brief in League of Women Voters of Indiana v. Rokita was filed in the Supreme Court of Indiana by attorneys with AARP Foundation Litigation in conjunction with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, pro bono assistance by the private law firm of Hogan & Hartson, and the Boston-based voting rights advocacy group Demos. The brief asserted that treating older voters differently runs afoul of the Equal Privileges and Immunities clause of the Indiana Constitution.

The brief took aim at supposed protections for older voters included in the law. First, the law's defenders pointed out that older voters can vote absentee without a photo ID. But AARP's brief pointed out that this distinction makes no sense, as absentee voting is far more prone to vote fraud, yet is far less heavily regulated by the State of Indiana. Besides, many voters, including older voters, prefer to vote in person. This permits them to avoid the confusing instructions with which absentee voters must comply, and also allows them the chance to pay attention to the statements of candidates until the very last day of a campaign, instead of forcing them to choose candidates before the campaign is over. Second, photo ID supporters noted that the law permits residents of state-licensed care facilities that also are polling places to vote without photo ID. In response, AARP's brief contended that there is no meaningful distinction between state-licensed care facilities that do, and those that do not, serve as polling places. Thus, it makes no sense to allow residents of the former to vote without photo ID while not affording the same privilege to residents of the latter.

AARP's brief also noted that Indiana could achieve its supposed purposes — preventing in-person vote fraud — through far less onerous means. AARP pointed out that some states allow election officials to request photo identification (allowing suspicious conduct to be investigated without imposing a blanket requirement on all voters), or allow voters to cast a provisional ballot in cases of suspected fraud, or allow voters to present non-photo identification materials (such as utility bills or bank statements). "Indeed, Indiana's onerous photo identification rules are virtually unique," the brief states.

Older voters are far less likely to have a driver's license or other official photo identification, and older low-income, minority or women voters face particular obstacles in collecting the documents necessary in order to obtain a state ID. Yet older voters are disproportionately likely to vote. AARP's brief argued that Indiana's law sets an unacceptable obstacle in the way of voting, the most fundamental form of civic participation, and thus, AARP argued, violated the Indiana Constitution.

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