Wait for court ruling to change voter ID law
The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether states can require people to show photo ID to vote in elections.
THE U.S. Supreme Court's agreement to decide whether states can require government-issued photo identification at polling sites should bring a modicum of consistency to states' election laws. Its ultimate decision will offer an opportunity for Hawaii legislators to change a state law so inadequate that polling officials have their own policy of requiring evidence of identification.
Several states have enacted Republican-sponsored laws since the disputed Florida vote in the 2000 presidential election to deter voter fraud. Photo ID laws in Indiana and Georgia have been upheld, but the Missouri law was struck down by that state's Supreme Court.
The federal high court is scheduled to hear the case in January and reach a decision by the end of June, in time for the 2008 election but not early enough for Hawaii legislators to respond during their regular session.
Hawaii law does not require a photo ID but, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures, it is among a few states where poll workers request, but do not require, a photo ID with the voter's signature. The law requires only that the voter sign a poll book, and even that may be waived in the case of illiteracy, blindness or other physical disability.
The Democratic Party has opposed the photo ID requirement, saying it creates a barrier for many poor, elderly, disabled, homeless or foreign-born citizens who lack valid photo ID cards. Indiana, whose law is at issue in the Supreme Court appeal, offers free photo ID cards to any voter who needs one. That might be an expensive way to deal with the rarity of a person using another's identity to cast a ballot.
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