Yesterday’s ruling on Arizona’s voter-registration ID law is very limited and technical. The fact that Justice Antonin Scalia wrote it should reassure conservatives (even those who haven’t read it) that it isn’t some wild-eyed, illogical condemnation of the idea that voters can be asked to identify themselves at the polling place. (For that matter, so should the 2008 decision by the very-liberal former Justice John Paul Stevens upholding Indiana’s very different Voter ID law.)
The problem with this Arizona law was that there was a specific federal law governing the requirements for voter registration that preempts this particular state law on the requirements for voter registration. That’s it. No, voter ID is not a poll tax. And it doesn’t disparately impact minority voters, either. In fact, here’s what NPR reported on the effect of this law: “Eighty percent of those who were rejected were non-Hispanic whites.” The most recent Census data shows that non-white Hispanics comprise only 57 percent of Arizona’s population. Arizonans of Hispanic origin — 30 percent of the population there — were evidently not subjected to their fair share of bureaucratic hassle in registering to vote.
So tell us more about how Voter ID, a requirement in nearly every other democracy on earth (including Mexico) is a plot to disenfranchise minority voters. I’m concerned that this argument sounds a bit unscientific.