Georgia’s voter ID law upheld in federal appeals court ruling
Lawsuit dismissed: Panel says state needn’t prove fraud exists, citing U.S. Supreme Court decision on Indiana voter ID law.

By Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, January 15, 2009

The federal appeals court in Atlanta on Wednesday upheld Georgia’s voter identification law, saying the burden of presenting a government-issued photo ID at the polls is trumped by the need to safeguard the integrity of elections.

“The insignificant burden imposed by the Georgia statute is outweighed by the interests in detecting and deterring voter fraud,” Judge Bill Pryor wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision dismisses a lawsuit filed by two elderly voters, one in Rome and another in Screven County, the NAACP and other civil rights groups.

The law has been assailed by Democratic lawmakers as a Republican ploy to suppress minority voting. But GOP lawmakers say it is needed to prevent voter fraud. In 2006, the General Assembly approved a revised version of the law almost entirely along party lines, with Republicans voting for it and Democrats in opposition. On Wednesday, the 11th Circuit relied heavily on a U.S. Supreme Court decision last April upholding a similar voter ID law in Indiana.

In that ruling, the high court stated, “There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of the state’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters.”