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Martin County Democrats

Martin County Democrats

Voter ID Law Thwarts Nuns

Think you're all set to cast your ballot? Not so fast. In Indiana, unless you have a valid government-issued photo ID, you could be out of luck.

That's a lesson a group of Indiana nuns learned last month when they tried to vote in the state's presidential primary. Ten sisters, all in their 80s and 90s, from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in South Bend were turned away from their polling place by a fellow sister because they presented outdated passports or had no photo ID at all.

A rule requiring a photo ID to vote in Indiana became official following an April 28 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court deeming it constitutional. Now, other states are considering similar legislation.

"It means bad news," says Steven Carbo, senior program director at Demos, a nonpartisan public policy organization specializing in voting rights issues.

Voting rights advocates say that requiring photo identification threatens to disenfranchise many older Americans, a voting bloc with traditionally strong turnout. They are less likely to have driver's licenses or birth certificates, which are often needed to obtain a government ID.

As for the nuns, they were aware of the law but tried to vote anyway. Convent officials say they will help the sisters obtain proper ID before the November election.

- Michelle Diament
From June 2008 AARP Bulletin