Texas Lawmakers to Enact Voter ID Law for No Reason

Jam Donaldson, Black Voices, March 25, 2011

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Republican legislators in the Texas House have once again proved they are the bastion of backward thinking by voting 101-48 late Wednesday for a bill requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls.

Republicans have long-sought to enact this legislation, saying that their constituents had demanded this change to ensure election integrity. Republican governor Rick Perry declared the bill one of several emergency items on the agenda.

Democrats in the House voted unanimously against the bill, saying the measure would disenfranchise poor and minority voters and is targeting a problem–in-person voter fraud–that doesn’t even exist.

{snip} The reality is that in-person voter fraud has never been a problem in this country. In fact, between 2002 and 2005, when hundreds of millions of people voted, the Justice Department charged a whopping 95 people with election fraud.

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Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said the bill would effectively return Texas to the days of Jim Crow:

“I think it’s horrible,” Veasey said. “I think it discriminates against people. I think we’ll look back in shame.”

One may think that such laws are innocuous. What’s the big deal about requiring ID to be shown at the polls? Well, on the surface, nothing; however, voter ID laws disproportionately impact minority, student and immigrant voters and reduce overall voter registration and turnout among those groups.

The elderly, who are the least likely to have a driver’s license or find their birth certificate, would have to pay a fee to order a birth certificate and then go down to city hall to apply for an ID card and pose for a picture.

Many low-income citizens who do not have a government-issued ID or have different addresses from their ID card will have to re-apply in order to vote. I feel bad for the granddad who moved to Texas to retire but still has his New York ID and won’t be able to vote until he gets a new ID card.

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The legislation also impacts college students by requiring a photo ID issued by the government. That excludes students from using student IDs and voting from their campus unless they choose to vote by absentee ballot.

Republicans are quick to point to the ACORN voting-registration scandal as evidence that voter fraud is a pervasive problem. Voter registration fraud, though, which usually consists of registering lots of people who don’t exist for money, generally, does not result in in-person voting fraud and, thus, does not have any impact on the outcome of elections.

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