News roundup

 

Another challenge to voter ID

The League of Women Voters of Indiana filed a complaint in the Marion County Superior Court last week to request that the Indiana voter ID law be declared unconstitutional under the Indiana Constitution.

The suit challenges Indiana’s requirement that voters must prove their identity by presenting a photo ID before casting a ballot.

In April, the United States Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law in a suit that was largely fueled by partisanship — with Republicans arguing that the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud and Democrats arguing that the ID requirements presented an undue burden on voters, particularly the elderly, infirm and poor, who might not have the means to acquire the required identification.

While several of the Supreme Court justices were sympathetic to those seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional, and expressed concern for the possibility of disenfranchised voters, the inability of the challengers to actually produce one verified instance where a registered voter was denied the right to vote led to a final ruling by the court that upheld the law.

This newest challenge, brought by the League of Women Voters, challenges the law based upon Art. 2, Sec. 2 of the Indiana Constitution, “which sets forth the only qualifications for voting eligibility that can legally be imposed upon voters without further amendment of the Indiana Constitution.”  

The suit argues that because this new law requires a change to the Indiana Constitution before it is legal, and because the state Constitution allows for no changes in voting requirements that require a change to the Constitution, the LWVIN argues that the new law is unconstitutional.

While the grounds for having the law struck down might be different in this case, the motive remains the same as in the previous challenge.

According to president of the LWVIN, Joanne Evers, “In crafting this law, the Legislature failed to acknowledge that not all Indiana citizens have a printed birth certificate or the transportation to travel to various government agencies to gather documents or the funds to purchase the documents required to get the necessary documentation.  

“The populations most effected by this law include the aged, disabled, homeless, lower income, minorities, rural residents and women who have hyphenated names or whose names have changed as the result of marriage, divorce or remarriage.” Evers concluded that the voter ID law is a disenfranchisement of Indiana voters.

For his part, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, one of the biggest proponents of the voter ID law, seems downright annoyed that the Supreme Court ruling did not settle the matter. “Indiana has got some real problems, and this isn’t one of them,” the secretary of state said in a written statement immediately following the announcement of the League of Women Voters’ lawsuit.

“This lawsuit will result in the resources of state government being focused on this issue yet again and once again at taxpayer expense,” Rokita said. “The highest court in the land has taken a close and careful look at this law and upheld it. I am confident this latest attempt to undo Indiana’s exemplary photo ID law will also fail.”

Elrod drops out of congressional race

Though he won the Republican primary election last month, Jon Elrod has decided not to run against Democrat Andre Carson in the election this fall, leaving Carson unopposed for the seat in the United States Congress.

Elrod held a press conference on Wednesday, June 18 to announce his decision.

“Much has happened in the past eight months since I announced last November,” Elrod said. “Our campaign reached out to voters with a positive message, fresh ideas and a vision of a government that works. We ran on issues: balanced budgets, fully funded Social Security and an end to earmarks. Two elections have passed, and the voters have chosen the victor. In the meantime, none stepped forward to continue my efforts in the Statehouse.”

Elrod, who quoted a Rudyard Kipling poem as part of his speech, admitted that the decision to drop out of the race was not an easy one. “I take no pleasure in walking away from a fight. The easy path would be to stay in the race. I also know many supporters will be disappointed. But this is not about ego or ideology. The only question is how I can best serve Indianapolis.”

For a transcript of Elrod’s speech, go to www.nuvo.net/articles/elrod_drops_out_of_house_race.

Say goodbye to Boden

The Humane Society of Indianapolis board of directors announced last week that CEO Martha Boden has stepped down as head of the local organization.

“We were beginning a process of reorganizing HSI to meet changing trends in animal welfare and the challenges of the current national economic situation,” David Horth, chair of the HSI board of directors, said. “Our internal organizational plan called for us to establish a smaller, leaner organization and then to determine whether our management structure was still the right one for the smaller organization.

“It became obvious to the HSI board, and to Martha, that it no longer made sense for any individual to lead the organization at the CEO level. Instead, we have realigned the administrative and operations staff and are actively recruiting an executive director.”

Financial debt is the pragmatic reason for the Humane Society to replace Boden’s CEO position with a less expensive administrator. More than 15 staff positions have already been eliminated at  HSI and Boden’s replacement is expected to make at least $30,000 a year less as executive director than she did as CEO. Reportedly, HSI’s current debt is $2.8 million, about the same as in 2002 when Boden was hired.

Boden, who became CEO in October 2002, says the decision is in the best interest of the animals.  “The choices are never easy, but our mission of caring for and finding lifetime homes for animals has to be paramount. Judging by that standard, I believe the board is taking the right approach.” Boden added, “My time here has been so rewarding and Indianapolis is a wonderful place.”

For more on the city’s current animal welfare crisis and current policy changes at the Human Society of Indianapolis, check out the recent NUVO Cover story “Saving the Strays” by Shawndra Miller at www.nuvo.net/articles/saving_the_strays.

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