Feds, Researchers Raise More Questions About Texas's New Voter ID Law

Categories: Politics

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The voter ID law passed by Texas lawmakers in May continues its circuit among activists, lawmakers, academics and social commentators as a discriminatory, unjustified and absolutely necessary measure, depending on who's yelling. Words like "voter fraud" on the right and "disenfranchisement" on the left stir up serious emotion with people on both sides. So here we go, heads down and shields up, charging into the next round of this ongoing battle.

Yesterday the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute at the New York University School of Law, published a report, Voting Law Changes in 2012, that estimates that state voting law changes could make it more difficult for more than "five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012."

Who are most affected by the laws that complicate the voting process? "Young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities," says the report, which continues, "This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election."

Texas's law, one of several passed in recent years, requires all voters to present photo identification at the polls. It requires the Department of Public Safety to issue a free identification certificate so that, theoretically, money is not a barrier to voting. And it strengthens penalties for people who vote illegally.

A couple weeks back, Joe posted a lengthy letter by a coalition of several voter advocacy non-profits, including the American Civil Liberties Foundation, who asked the Attorney General and Department of Justice to object to the new Texas law requiring photo ID to vote. In other words, Feds, meet Rick Perry, our governor. (Head's up: He doesn't like you much.)

"[Texas] has failed completely to proffer any evidence that [the Voter ID law] was enacted for a non-discriminatory purpose, and the evidence demonstrates otherwise," the letter states. "Voters of color will suffer negatively and disproportionately if SB14 [Voter ID] is allowed to proceed to implementation."

The feds have since responded with a letter of their own. The DOJ does not object to the increases in penalties for illegal voting in Texas but says it needs more information to determine whether the law makes it more difficult for minorities to vote. It requests that the coalition of activist groups who objected submit more information about the states' education programs and materials that will be used in the law's implementation, including a detailed description of the "locations and dates when an individual may obtain a free election identification certificate." Once the additional information reaches the Department of Justice, a response will be issued within another 60 days. And the show will go on.

As this Rolling Stone article details, this issue is not individual to Texas, even though it's so us.

All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states -- Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia -- cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures -- Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin -- will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic -- including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.
The alleged driving force behind the legislation is the battle against voter fraud, an evil that should be beaten down, sure. If it exists at all. There is little evidence to support that it does in any measurable amount, at least in the form that these laws would protect against: unregistered or fraudulently voters casting ballots in person at the polls. (In other words: Not what the Medrano family is accused of).

The Brennan Center previously published another paper, The Truth About Voter Fraud, that shows voter fraud to be blown out of proportion by politicians who sound fantastically electable championing it as a worthy cause and media outlets that dine out on the splashy narrative of Stolen Elections: "Perhaps because these stories are dramatic, voter fraud makes a popular scapegoat."

"If we can move beyond the fixation on voter fraud," the paper goes on, "we will be able to focus on the real changes our elections need, from universal registration all the way down to sufficient parking at the poll site."

But that wouldn't be very sexy, would it?


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Yvonne Crum
Yvonne Crum

cannot imagine why they have never asked for ID before.. each time i go vote I take my DL and my voter Reg.. and give it to them.. they always say "we don't need the DL" .. and I say how do you know it's  me?  they say "it doesn't matter you have your voter reg.. Ok... there you have it... I vote at the elementary school on Midbury.

TracyClinton
TracyClinton

I'd like someone out of all the people who have said that it is a requirement to have state-issued photo ID to get a job in Texas to show me that law. It doesn't exist. While many employment opportunities require this, there are many perfectly legal jobs that don't. These commenters may not be familiar with this because their stuck in the bubble of resenting the poor and non-caucasians.

Alfredo
Alfredo

Check the requirements to lawful obtain work and the I-9 requirements.  Unless you are using a passport, the documents pretty much require a photo idDocuments that may be used under "List B" of the I-9 to establish identity include:Driver's license or I.D. card issued by a U.S. state or outlying possession of the U.S., provided it contains a photograph or identifying information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color and address.Federal or state I.D. card provided it contains a photograph or identifying information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color and address.School I.D. with photographU.S. Armed Services identification card or draft recordU.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner CardNative American tribal documentDriver's license issued by a Canadian government authorityFor individuals under the age of 18 only, the following documents may be used to establish identity:School record or report cardClinic, doctor or hospital recordDay-care or nursery school record

cp
cp

No. Look at the list of the acceptable documents and you get a list from either A (establishing both identity and employment authorization) or B (establishing identity only), in combination with list C (establishing employment authorization).

In list B (establishing identity) a voter registration card can be used.

Mike
Mike

All the items in list C are either photo ID from some type of government or you need government ID to acquire as an adult or obtain a copy unless you have the original.  So yes, if you were born overseas to US parents and had the local consulate issue you a birth certificate and you still have the original document, you clear I-9 with your voter registration card. 

Albert
Albert

No need to worry about people who can't get transpo to get ID, because they probably couldn't get a ride to get food, so they're likely dead anyway.

Anonymous
Anonymous

why? I can walk 2 blocks to buy food from a grocery store or any number of restaurants. I can walk to my polling place. I can't walk to the location where I'd apply for my ID.

Mike
Mike

You can spend a $1.75 for a bus ride and omit a dessert at the restaurant one time in 3 years.

TimCov
TimCov

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, how are these people getting through life with no picture ID. You need an ID to cash a check (whether at a bank or a check cashing business), to get a legal job and for many other things. When I was poor, I still maintained an ID. It was an expense and a hassle. But, I needed it.On the other hand, I hate the idea of needing an ID to function in society. And, voting is something you do as a functional citizen. It is a right and a duty.

Ryan Sanders
Ryan Sanders

I have never had to show my ID to get a job. Perhaps you should get a job.

Obvious Man
Obvious Man

So why don't we combine the register to vote campaign with a campaign to register for a State issued voter ID?  The process has to be similar so why not combine the two?   

Guest
Guest

Because that gives neither side talking points to include in their fundraising emails. 

Obvious Man
Obvious Man

If you were on the Dem side of the equation why wouldn't you be for this knowing it would scare the heck outta the tea party and bring more to your side of the argument?  And if you were on the tea party side why wouldn't you be for this knowing it would scare the heck outta the non-registered and drive them away?     

Ryan Sanders
Ryan Sanders

Why does this have to be about politics. In my mind this should be about getting as many eligible voters to the polls as possible. Republicans have other goals.

ChuckE
ChuckE

From the Rolling Stone article: "More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic -- including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans."Really? Twenty-five percent of ALL African-Americans don't have photo ID? Wow! Where do they get these statistics?

Guest
Guest

Curious if they included all people, or only people who are eligible to vote.  For example, do they include children under 18?  They are citizens, and I am confident a large portion have no form of photo ID. 

Dallas Watcher
Dallas Watcher

Why is it OK for retailers to make you show a picture ID to cash a check (sometimes to use a credit card) or buy certain over-the-counter medications, but not OK to produce a picture ID for voting? 

It is so easy for elderly and impaired people to vote by mail.   You have all the ballot collectors out there who will do it for you.   The same people who oppose a photo ID at the polling place, also tough mail-in ballot vote harvesting as a necessary assistance to help people vote -- particularly if they are comotose in a nursing home.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I don't know. Why is it OK for a retailer to turn you away if you don't have enough money to pay for what they are selling but it's not OK for the police to not respond to a 911 to your house just because you have an outstanding tax bill from the last year?

The government is held to standards that the private market is not. Get over it, and stop making the dumb comparisons.

I don't think the law is an unreasonable burden to pretty much all voters, but I do think its implementation represents and undue financial cost on a state that will continue to suffer budget cuts for years.

newsreader
newsreader

Uh, so these 10% of people have never had to: --Cash a check --Drive a car,--Get Government benefits --Present ID to get   certified mail or wired funds?Seriously?

John_McKee
John_McKee

THEY ARE POOR. What do you not understand about this?

Jay
Jay

Yes. We got it. THEY ARE POOR, in all caps so we know you really, really mean it. I would guess that as a general rule, people who are too poor, disoriented, or lazy to obtain a "free" picture ID don't bother to vote anyway.

Listen, take "voting" out of the equation, then think of all of the really good reasons that the poor, elderly, and minorities should have some form of government picture identification in their possession.

Of course, this is just the issue of the moment. Democrat and Republican operatives wouldn't be truly happy unless they had some issue or another to be outraged about.

Anonymous
Anonymous

realistically, this is a surmountable obstacle to almost all people who truly want to vote, but there is a cost to everything. why are we wasting state resources, both time and money, to "fix" a problem that does not merit this response?both parties use it to fire up their base, but Republicans probably don't lose as many votes as Democrats, so they have good reason to fight the rules.

Guest
Guest

So they don't need to have the paperwork ready in the event that they apply for government benefits or find a job?  Do they not even try to get jobs?  Because you can't get a job without a photo ID. 

Anonymous
Anonymous

is having a job a pre-requisite for voting? yes, we get that productive members of our society need an ID for things much more mundane than voting and things that are essential like applying for a job or getting welfare. 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Gotta love the teabaggers and right-wingers trying to control who has the right to vote. This is a slippery slope and one we need to back-away from sooner than later.

jfpo
jfpo

Voter fraud has nothing to do with any of this legislation. It's political strategy, pure and simple. The responses here indicate that this will be successful political strategy.

Guest
Guest

Such a non-issue.  One of those things politicians and professional advocacy organizations like to talk about because it fires up the base (for both parties) and brings in the donations that pay their salaries. 

1:  This won't make any real difference in voter fraud.  Voter fraud happens with the absentee ballots.

2:  This shouldn't make much of a difference in voting.  All anyone has to do is get an I.D. if you don't already have one.  It's free.  There will be an education campaign to alert voters.  Big deal.   

John_McKee
John_McKee

Yeah, all one has to do is get an I.D., which it turns out is a huge burden for the economically disadvantaged which tends to also be largely comprised of racial minority groups.

Hell, it's a burden for me and I can easily take time off of work to do it and have a car.

Johnwilyprx
Johnwilyprx

John_McKee You have a car but no photo ID? Oh, right, you have one, so it wasn't the biggest obstacle ever. But you're worried about people who can take time off to vote but can't take time off to get the FREE ID? Does common sense even matter any more? What an idiot.

Guest
Guest

Life is full of burdens.  It's a burden to show up and vote.  It's a burden to fill out paperwork to get hired for a job.

A photo ID is required to get a job in this country.  This means the poor who are still in their working years should be getting IDs even if they don't want to vote.  Now they can do it for free. 

Anonymous
Anonymous

why is the right to vote in any way tied to employment? you need a photo ID to do a lot of things that a lot of people do 10 times a day, but why does your non-participation in the labor market, or formal economy for that matter, entitle the government to make it harder for you to vote?

Chris
Chris

How the heck is asking someone to get a free ID -that they should have anyway as a citizen of this country- a "huge burden."  Gee, I don't know if I can afford the $25 my driver's license cost or, better yet, the frickin' FREE IDENTIFICATION CERTIFICATE.  Damn, so sorry that that's such a burden or infringement on your rights.

And, no, I'm not a teabagger or right-winger but firm independent.

Ridiculous.

Mike
Mike

You don't get parking tickets if you do not own a car and you cannot own and operate a car, get a title, without government ID.  I assume you can leave it in your yard and stay off the grid.

Ediaz1982
Ediaz1982

we also have to think of the people who are scare to go get an ID over stupid parking ticket subcharges because if you own $$$ and go get one you might go to jail and miss election day they are just making it more diffult so the low-income people wont count how about incouraging folks to go vote like back back in history when they invited people with party to go to their speeches and earn a vote. now "we" have to pay them thought they worked for us what is really going on.

Jason
Jason

You know what? You're right. Why don't we just have a poll tax? We could be making a lot of money off of elections If someone wants to vote so bad those lazy bastards should be made to pay for it! I mean, collect aluminum cans, bottles, whatever. If it's the issues that are going to effect their lives are important to them, what's a dollar at the poll? Maybe three dollars for a bus ride to the DMV to get their state issued ID? Or, well, maybe a half day off in pay so they can go get their ID. Well, that on top of the bus ride. I mean really. These people and their issues.

Seriously, dude. Stop it. Do you really not know how hard it is right now for people? For some reason you want to talk about a NY Times article but are completely ignorant to the struggles of the working poor? Do you just read the obits? I get the Sunday Times. In fact, just a couple of months ago the Texas section of the Sunday Times had an article about poverty levels in Texas.

And then you flippantly and more than likely laughingly suggest that liberals/progressives round people up to get them IDs. That's what America is about? Let's start a law that has been proven to have no effect on voter fraud and let other citizens be responsible for them to get proper ID to vote in an election? This is not the country past lawmakers had in mind. I'm sorry, I refuse to believe that?

And, you wouldn't mind if 5% of the population wasn't able to vote? Get out of here. Like, really. Screw you. You're an ass.

Jason
Jason

My nephew never had a job. He never had to cash a check. The checks he might have gotten for graduation were more than likely endorsed over to my sister so she could cash. The only time he flew was before 9/11.

The reason he did get an ID card was because he was moving off to Brooklyn to be some no good bohemian and needed it to get on the plane to move. Damn kids these days.

I-9 forms do not require state issued ID cards. I am well versed in I-9's. Had to train in them when they went into effect years ago. I could have hired my nephew without a state issued ID. Well, I would have needed sign-off by the CEO of the company due to nepotism rules, butbthe I-9 would have been no problem.

pak152
pak152

"College kids who might not drive or have an ID Card (my nephew was in his second year of college before he went and got a state issued ID card).  "seriously? no state issued id before going off to college? how did he cash a check? how did he satisfy the requirements of the I-9 form if he applied for a job. Did he fly anywhere before going to college? did he travel anywhere outside of the US?

So once again what you are talking about is a small minority . would love to know the event that requierd your nephew to finally obtain a state issued id.

pak152
pak152

Jason like anything else in life if someone wants to do something they will find a way to do it. If an individual can't find the way to get a photo id in order to vote that is their problem. If it were me I would be collecting aluminum cans, bottles whatever to raise the funds. as I pointed out elsewhere liberal/progressive groups could take the "walking around" money that they normally hand out before elections and use it to transport people so that they can get an id. the vast majority of people in the state have either a driver's license or identification card. what are we worried about 5% or less of eligible voters?

I read an obituary the other day in the NYTimes about a man who didn't have a photo id and needed one so he could fly from LA to NY.

People who lack a photo id are basically off the grid. In other countries around the world people gladly present a photo id so that they can vote. They understand that presenting such an id ensures the integrity of the system and that it is truly one man one vote

Jason
Jason

Hey, pak152.  I think I backed up my thoughts up with scenarios of how this law will keep people from the polls "pray tell".  In fact, unlike all of your comments so far, my comment can be backed up with references if I absolutely need to.   

Bottom line is voting is a right granted by the constitution.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 backed that up by opening up voting to any US citizen.  While states can use laws to change the way votes can be cast, I feel this voter ID law is nothing but a red herring.  There are very little proven cases of voter fraud with in-person voting.  Voting fraud happens most frequently with mail-in ballots.  

This law does nothing except keep people away from the polls.  Doesn't matter if it only effects one person, it is keeping that one person from their constitutional right.  

Plus, it wastes a whole lot of money that I'd rather see being spent on something else in our state budget.

pak152
pak152

"This is simply one more way to keep people from the polls." and pray tell how will this keep someone away from the polls. in all likelihood someone who doesn't have a photo id is also probably not registered to vote

pak152
pak152

"t's a burden on poor people who do not have easy transportation to a DPS office to obtain an ID," then maybe the various liberal/progressive get out the vote groups should use their funds to transport those without photo ids  to the DMV and pay for those ids, but then that would defeat their voter efforts of making sure folks register for multiple times

Mike
Mike

You cannot work without a government photo ID.  Consequently if you do not have one, you will have plenty of time to get one.  All the DPS offices have bus lines nearby.  A single ride is 1.75, elderly is 85 cents.  You have to do this once every few years, 3 or 5?

Voting is the single most important activity we do as adults to help govern the country, excluding the relatively few in military or public office.  It's not supposed to be something equivalent to all the thought around buying a beer or pack of cigarettes.   If you are that disengaged from society (no job, no bank account, no income, pay no taxes except sales tax on your cash transactions, no government benefits) that we basically have no clue that you are who you say are, it's not unreasonable to spend a very limited amount of time to get on the grid.

TracyClinton
TracyClinton

It's free to certain people. If you've ever gotten a drivers license in Texas previously, currently you're ineligible unless you meet elderly age requirements.

Jason
Jason

You might not be a "teabagger" nor a "right-winger" but it sure must be lonely in that bubble you're living in.

John_McKee used a phrase that he didn't think was going to be dissected - "huge burden".  No, it's not a huge burden.  It's simply an unjust burden to a non-problem.  The law is nothing more than voter disenfranchisement.  It is a law that is in place to make it harder for people to vote.  

The bill requires a valid state issued ID.  So, elderly person whose ID card recently expired won't be able to vote unless they get it renewed in time.  Poor person who doesn't have the means or time to get to a government office to get ID renewed in time to vote.  What's more important, showing up for work and not asking for time off or going to get ID done in time?  College kids who might not drive or have an ID Card (my nephew was in his second year of college before he went and got a state issued ID card).  Students have better things to do in college than to make sure their ID cards are up to date.  Then there are the people who simply aren't educated on the new laws who show up on the day of an election and are turned away for not having valid state issued ID.

This is simply one more way to keep people from the polls.  And, as it has been before and I think it has been backed up, there have been only a handful of proven cases of voter fraud when it comes to in-person voting.  Mail-in ballot on the other hand - a lot!

I would hope that everyone agrees, including myself, that we always want votes to be counted properly.  I am just a firm believer that every citizen who wants to vote should be able to vote.

Plus, I saw early on when this was being debated that the state was going to put forth $2.5 million for education on the changes in law.  And, at one point they talked about how due to this law that state issued ID cards would be issued free by the state, in turn taking away a possible $14 million that could be collected in ID Card fees.  This whole thing just stinks.  Republicans who tout fiscal conservatism but will spend up to $16.5 million in state money for a law that hasn't shown to be effective in doing anything except keep people from the polls.

Guest
Guest

This is a distraction, one that both the far left and the far right are taking advantage of to bring money into their respective war chests.

The State should do everything in its power to make it as easy as possible, but the burden isn't very high.  It's free and there are many places to get an ID.  Maybe the State could open offices for a few weekends to get everyone signed up. 

Think about it this way:  If we spent as much time and effort helping the poor get IDs as we have fighting over voter ID laws, would we have a problem at all?  I doubt it.   

John_McKee
John_McKee

It's not a burden on me or an infringement on my rights, I usually vote with my ID anyways because I always seem to misplace my voter registration card.

It's a burden on poor people who do not have easy transportation to a DPS office to obtain an ID, likely live paycheck to paycheck and would need to take unpaid time off of work to wait in line forever to get the ID and would need transportation to the DPS office. And that's assuming the person that doesn't have a current photo ID has the records needed to obtain one readily available, if they don't there is an additional burden and expense in obtaining certified copies of them.

On top of that, it becomes a much larger burden on the poor because they have little other need for it. I need a drivers license and passport because I travel internationally, for banking, purchasing alchohol and drive my own car. That's a lot of reasons I need a photo ID for, voting is among the less frequent need of it, I'd have it anyways, the poor not so much.

I'm really surprised that you say you aren't a teabaggger or right-winger because you have their "fuck you, got mine" attitude down pat. Of course you don't want to consider the ways it could possibly be a major burden to others because it is not one on you, all to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

Bob
Bob

Isn't the real issue fraudulent mail-in ballots, not fraud at the poll?

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