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Court of Appeals judge admits he was wrong to uphold voter ID law

Voter IDHere’s a pretty amazing and frustrating story: Richard Posner, one of the conservative pillars of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago told an interviewer last Friday that he erred in upholding Indiana’s groundbreaking and vote-suppressing voter ID law.

As Think Progress reports today:

Judge Richard Posner authored a federal appeals court decision upholding the nation’s first voter ID law, a common voter suppression law that disproportionately disenfranchises people of color, students and low income voters. The Supreme Court, while technically deciding the case on a narrower grounds than Posner’s opinion, later ensured that voter ID laws would flourish by making them virtually impossible to challenge under the Constitution.

In an interview with Huffington Post Live’s Mike Sacks on Friday, however, Judge Posner said he made a mistake in the voter ID case, pointing to the fact that there was too little evidence of the harms voter ID would inflict at the time he handed down his decision. “[T]he problem,” Posner explained, “is that there hadn’t been that much activity with voter identification.” He blames his erroneous decision on the fact that the evidence presented to him at the time didn’t provide “strong indications that requiring additional voter identification would actually disfranchise people entitled to vote.”

Now, however, there are numerous studies examining the impact of voter ID, and even the more conservative estimates suggest that these laws will prevent 2 to 3 percent of registered voters from actually casting their ballots. Meanwhile, while voter ID’s defenders claim that the laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud at the polls, such fraud is virtually non-existent. One Wisconsin study found that just 0.00023 percent of votes stem from in-person voter fraud.

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Ian Millhiser of Think Progress filed this commentary ...

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