Entries in ID (4)


Justice Department Challenges Texas Voter ID Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Attorneys for the Justice Department and the state of Texas had a showdown in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday over a new Lone Star State law that requires voters to show a photo ID before they cast a ballot.

In what many view as a challenge to the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 legislation that protects minorities, Texas passed a law that requires voters to possess a driver’s license, a passport or another form of photo ID.

The two sides ended up in federal court when the Justice Department moved in March to block implementation of the law, and Texas sued.

The issue has been the subject of partisan debate for decades.  Republican supporters of the law say it prevents fraud, while Democrat opponents say the rule unfairly targets minorities, most of whom vote Democratic.

Democrats say many members of the minority community do not have a driver’s license or passport.  The Democrats also say voter fraud is a rare occurrence and passing a law to prevent such an infrequent event would disenfranchise thousands.

Attorney Adam Mortara, representing the state of Texas, told the three-judge panel that “no one is stopped from voting by these laws.”  He argued that the Justice Department’s position that a photo-ID requirement disproportionately affects minority voters is based on “flawed analysis.”

Mortara told the judges, “There is no actual ID disparity between the races or ethnic groups.”

Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Westfall argued that the Texas law would make things difficult for the state’s 1.4 million voters who don't have a photo ID.

She told the court, “Texas is unable to meet its burden of showing that the law will not have a discriminatory affect.”

Texas is just one of a number of states with Republican-controlled legislatures that have passed or are developing new laws designed to prevent voter fraud.

The hearing is scheduled to last five days, and a ruling is expected by next month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Milwaukee Medical Examiner Creates Website to ID Unknown Corpses

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MILWAUKEE) -- A Milwaukee medical examiner is using new media to identify forgotten victims in old, cold cases.

Mike Simley, a forensic investigator in Milwaukee County, Wisc., built and launched an online database of unidentified deceased bodies that have been in his morgue for up to 30 years, awaiting a family member or friend who can claim them as their own.

"I was just desperate to get people identified," Simley said.  "Everyone is born with an identity and deserves to die and be put to rest with the same thing, rather than as a Jane or John Doe."

The database is filled with photos of the unnamed deceased that viewers can scroll through to see if they recognize any faces.  The website even includes a section for unidentified infants and fetuses found abandoned and deceased.  Many of the images, Simley acknowledged, are gruesome.

"I talked with the chief medical examiner here.  We see this stuff on a daily basis, but people who don't have to deal with death all the time. Obviously it would not be an easy thing for people to see, deceased individuals," Simley said.

He created the website to have multiple warnings and disclaimers about the types of pictures featured.

"I structured this website so you have to jump through some hoops, and read a big warning about what types of pictures they are, and a description of why I'm doing this (before you see the photos)."

[Click here to see the website]

Simley said he doctored some photos, changing the color or fading some details, to make up for natural body decomposition and make it a little bit easier for the public to view.

He hopes that through his website and a national database of unidentified bodies and missing persons family members will recognize a defining characteristic of their relative and contact his office to arrange burial.

Simley said he knew of only one other jurisdiction that had a similar website -- Clark County, Nev. -- which had some success matching bodies with family members.  The Milwaukee website has not yet had a match since its launch in mid-December, he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State Voter ID Laws Draw National Scrutiny

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice is reviewing, and has the power to reject, a controversial new law passed in South Carolina that requires a registered voter to present a government-issued photo ID before his or her vote is counted.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill into law in May and she’s not alone.  Four other states have passed similar voter ID laws in 2011, including Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee and Kansas.  But thanks to the DOJ, South Carolina’s law could still be rejected by federal officials.

And while other states have passed voter photo ID laws in the past, the laws passed in 2011 are by far the strictest with the exception of the law passed in 2005 by the state of Indiana.

Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act empowers the DOJ to review election laws passed in select southern states, as well as Alaska and some counties throughout the country.  Crafted in a time of great racial strife, the act was meant to codify the power of the 15th Amendment, which forbids racial discrimination at the polling booth.

South Carolina, which is subject to federal review, is the only state to have petitioned the Obama Justice Department for approval while other states such as Texas opted to clear their law through the D.C. District Court, which is also permitted.

Critics of a stricter photo ID law argue that the requirement will make it tougher for poor and minority voters to cast their ballot while proponents call it a common sense provision.

Voters without the means to produce correct documents or the disabled can verify their identity through an affidavit but many still see the ID requirements as too burdensome.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Man Who Eluded Airport Security Due in Court

Facebook(LOS ANGELES) -- The Nigerian man who flew from New York to Los Angeles with a fake ID and boarding pass last Friday is due in a Los Angeles courtroom Friday.

Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, 24, faces stowaway charges.  He was arrested in Los Angeles Wednesday after trying to board a Delta flight bound for Atlanta.  FBI agents say they found 10 apparently stolen boarding passes in his bags.

The Transportation Security Administration now admits that Noibi somehow got through security at both New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport before he was caught by the FBI.

Joseph Morris, the former federal security director at JFK Airport, said the incident points to a major problem.

"It certainly shows that there's a weakness," Morris said.

The TSA has also confirmed that its security officer in New York never noticed that Noibi's ID and boarding pass were invalid.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio