Judge Posner has stunned the legal community with a rare judicial mea culpa: an admittance that he was asleep at the wheel six years ago when he wrote that he really thought voter fraud was an okay reason to have voter ID in Indiana even though little to no evidence was provided about actual fraud. He was also provided with the argument that the voter ID could be the basis of voter suppression, which he also forthwith dismissed.
Indiana’s Republicans have long been working on various “disparate impact” voter registration and voter ID laws, which appear to be plausible but, in reality, are aimed at suppressing voting access by minorities and those who typically vote Democratic. While they are shrewd enough not to flat out target a specific group – imagine the stink that would raise – they have fabricated laws that in their application have a disparate impact on certain groups.
In conjunction with Republican legislative efforts, then-Governor Daniels – under the guise of “efficiency” – made sure to slash the number of Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations where voter IDs could be procured. Or the locations were moved from democratic strongholds to make access more difficult. Thus, the Republicans used a two-prong drive to suppress as many Democratically leaning voters as possible: Impose an ID requirement, and then close or relocate those very offices where the IDs could be obtained.
Allen County has three BMV locations. Two are in Fort Wayne – Pine Valley and Waynedale – with a third in New Haven. The Waynedale location replaced the branch once located at Southgate Plaza, which served an area in the predominantly democratic 5th and 6th districts with a heavy minority concentration of African-American and Hispanic populations.
The following maps show the areas of minority concentration. The numbers in the boxes are not related to the issue of minority population.
The darker the shade of blue the higher the African-American population. The situation is similar for the Hispanic population.
Again, the darker the shade of green, the higher the concentration of the Hispanic population.
Finally, here is a map that shows the 5th and 6th districts showing the boundaries. The relocated Southgate branch now resides in the 4th district – a Republican held city council seat. Both the 5th and 6th districts are represented by Democrats.
So, while it is a stunning admittance from Judge Posner that he finally woke from his six-year sleep, it is not a case of “better late than never.” His “ah-ha” moment is too little too late.