DAILY SIGNAL — As courts over the last few weeks dealt a series of blows to voter identification laws in states across the country, Indiana’s Secretary of State Connie Lawson was feeling fortunate.
More than a decade ago, before it was the rage to do so, Lawson, then a Republican state legislator, co-sponsored a bill in the name of preserving election integrity that requires Indiana voters to produce photo identification to vote.
Three years after the legislation became law in 2005, the Supreme Court upheld it as constitutional, and today, Lawson, as the state’s chief elections official, is describing Indiana’s photo identification law as a success story. She says it’s a triumph that states discouraged by recent court rulings should learn from.
“When we wrote the legislation, we did everything we could do to make elections honest and make sure everyone can participate in the election process,” Lawson told The Daily Signal in an interview. “So we added protections [against disenfranchisement] that maybe some of the other laws don’t have. And now, our law has stood the test of time. It passed the test with the U.S. Supreme Court, and it’s been in place for over a decade now.”
Lawson says that turnout for presidential elections has increased since the law’s implementation—it jumped from 58 percent in 2004 to 62 percent in 2008, a year when President Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry Indiana since 1964. Turnout fell back to 58 percent in 2012.
And she contends there is “no compelling evidence” to prove voters are being blocked from the ballot box because of stricter identification requirements, although she says it’s “impossible to measure” whether the law has prevented a case of in-person voter fraud.
The courts are making their own declarations on voter identification laws.