By upholding Indiana's voter identification law, the U.S. Supreme Court has virtually ignored the nation's ignominious history of disenfranchising certain groups and sanctioned an overly restrictive solution in search of a problem. While the court's 6-3 ruling is not expected to have a major effect on the coming presidential election, it is likely to encourage more states to follow Indiana's lead, guaranteeing that more Americans could be denied one of the most basic rights in a democracy. Maryland should stick to its convictions and continue rejecting stricter voter ID requirements.
The Indiana law requires voters who show up at the polls to present a photo identification that, for all intents and purposes, can be satisfied only by a driver's license or a U.S. passport. State officials rationalized the law as a way to combat voter fraud, modernize election procedures and deal with an administrative problem of people who had either died or moved away continuing to show up on voter rolls. But challengers of the law rightly pointed to the deterrent effect it can have on the elderly and poor people who don't drive and for whom having to get a government-issued photo ID could be a burden. The requirement also doesn't apply when someone registers to vote or casts an absentee ballot - instances where detecting or deterring fraud should be of more paramount concern.