Feds Think Texas's Voter ID Law May Be Racist, So the State Sues to Implement It Right Away

Categories: Politics

Thumbnail image for Greg_Abbott.jpg
Greg Abbott to feds: Oh hell no.
Given Texas's dicey history with electoral rights, the Obama Administration has expressed concern in recent months about the state's new Voter ID law, which requires voters to bring government-issued identification to the polls. So the state, naturally, is suing to put the new and allegedly discriminatory law into action. Like, now.

Texas passed its Voter ID law last May, joining a host of states whose legislatures have been cracking down on "voter fraud" -- the act of dead and unregistered and illegal-immigrant and otherwise nefarious voters who, if you believe the fear-mongering that accompanied much of the rhetoric in support of the bills, are conspiring to steal our nation's elections.

Of course, plenty of folks see it differently. They see Republican-controlled legislatures making it more difficult for certain classes of people -- old people, young people and poor people, mostly -- to vote.

Voting-rights advocates argue that the new law, which excludes student IDs but includes gun licenses, will make it more difficult for those people to vote, because they're less likely to have a driver's license or other government ID. Plus, they point out: The kind of voter fraud the law aims to stop -- where people actually cast votes they're not supposed to cast -- is a wildly exaggerated problem. (NYU has done some interesting research on this.)

The Justice Department was able to delay Texas's law taking effect under the Voting Rights Act. It asked Texas to basically prove that the law wouldn't disenfranchise minority voters, even asking for specific statistics about the ethnicity of voters who might not have government-issued IDs. According to the lawsuit, the state did its best -- but not good enough for the feds.

In the meantime, the Justice Department refused to approve South Carolina's similar law. So with so much writing on the wall, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott decided to take the state's fight to federal court, filing a lawsuit earlier today and asking a judge to overrule the Justice Department and allow the law to take effect.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter identification laws are constitutional," Abbott said in a statement. "Texas should be allowed the same authority other states have to protect the integrity of elections. To fast-track that authority, Texas is taking legal action in a D.C. Court seeking approval of its voter identification law."

The lawsuit, which you can read here, was filed in DC. It was not presented to the court in the form of a tightly wound scroll fired from the .22 of a wildly cackling Rick Perry, but it totally should have been.

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78 comments
Texan
Texan

Texas will give people an id for free and over sixty five are exempt.  Getting along without id these days is impossible anyway.

amuncat
amuncat

Minorities and the elderly should be highly offended by these comments about the difficulties they will have in getting legitimate ID. They are just like everyone else here LEGALLY, need ID, no problem!The problem comes when you are NOT a US citizen and here illegally.

pak152
pak152

"Voting-rights advocates argue that the new law,  will make it more difficult for those people to vote, because they're less likely to have a driver's license or other government ID."

and yet the law in Texas, SC and other states that have passed similar laws provide a means for these individuals to get a govt photo id for free. and a recent study in SC showed that less than 1% of the voting age population didn't have a govt photo id.

now I wonder what the DoJ is going to do about this? http://chicago.cbslocal.com/20...

NONE
NONE

will all Texas Cemeteries have to issue a photo ID for all the tombstones too....you know, for the polling place ID test....uh...

NONE
NONE

THE FEDS THINK EVERYTHING IS RACIST IF THEY DID NOT PROPOSE IT FIRST.

All that time, in the 60s, I thought that "Radical, Man" was a statement of COOL...who was to know that post 1970 is was going to become "Racial Man".

Learn we much.

Mikey
Mikey

Most of the voter fraud (or more correctly vote fraud) is in the COUNTING, not in the VOTING. Can you say Florida?

Towski
Towski

2 comments/questions

1. How many instances of actual, deliberate voter fraud take place per election nationwide that would be corrected by these types of laws?

2. I read several statements/variations of "to be a functioning member of society you need an ID" - there is no requirement that one needs to be what you or I consider a normal member of society to be a voter.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

This just in from ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke:

“The fact that the state of Texas filed a federal lawsuit to speed up implementation of the new Voter ID law is ludicrous.  The burden is on the state of Texas to prove this voter ID law will not inhibit certain groups of Texans from voting.  To shirk that responsibility shows that state lawmakers in favor of this law do not support the growth of democracy by encouraging voter participation. They want to shrink it by making it harder to vote.  The ACLU of Texas has said it before, and we say it again: There is absolutely no proof of voter fraud at the polls in Texas. This bill, from the start, was a solution to a problem that does not exist."

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

I can see both sides to this, but my question is, why did the other states who tried this were turned down? Same story?

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

I have voted in every presidential, statewide and local election since 1976.  And yes, I find it personally offensive that I now must document my existence with a valid (unexpired) government-issued PHOTO identification card that EXACTLY matches my voter registration card to a table full of people who know me.

If I was 75 years old, didn't drive, and was born at home, getting a government-issued PHOTO identification card would require my parent or sibling (presuming I had one) to sign an affidavit drafted pursuant to the law stating who I was, where I was born (what farming community, town, you get it) and if I was delivered by a doctor or wid-wife, the name of that doctor or midwife, and certify that I am an American citizen (duh).  I would then have to take that affidavit to the driver's license office, stand in line for days, apply for a PHOTO identification card, and pay for it.

All so I could exercise a Constitutionally guaranteed right.  Now, explain to me why this is so necessary if it's NOT necessary to buy an M-16, another Constitutionally guaranteed right?

Realist
Realist

Learn to play the game people - I see this as an opportunity for thousands of deceased folks to oust JWP and EBJ from public office 

Augie
Augie

Even the normally liberal readership of this blog do not get this issue. As you have pointed out, minorities, older folks and younger folks are the ones typically lacking an i.d. that meets the requirements of this law.  They are also more likely to vote Dem.  If a mere few thousand Democrats are disfranchised by this law, it could make the difference in an election.  

Why in a state with huge R majorities, including all statewide office holders, is it necessary to create lawsuits to force this law into effect now?  Why not have one election cycle where at every polling place you put up signs, tell people and do check ids, but only inform anyone without the proper ID...next time, you can't vote with this form of id?  

This is another typical R misinformation campaign to create a false issue of voter fraud and particularly voter fraud by illegal aliens.  There is just not any happening.  The real target of this law is minorities.    

Hannibal Lecter
Hannibal Lecter

It's sad how many people who claim to be against big government are leading the charge for a neo-fascist "show me your papers" police state.

A true conservative wants less government control, not less.

Facebook User
Facebook User

Our society depends on proof of identification. In 2012 it is basically impossible to function in society without some sort of government issued ID. You can't get any sort of social welfare including welfare, food stamps, WIC, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid without an ID. If poor or minority voters do not have government issued ID they can't take advantage of any of these programs. You would think the left would appreciate the fact that this law might increase the number of poor and minority voters who will be able to vote AND use social welfare programs. The left spends a LOT of money and time helping people get registered to vote, why not check to see if they have an ID and help those who don't have one get one. They are very inexpensive and they can open a host of opportunities for the poor and minorities.

joejoethedogfaceboy
joejoethedogfaceboy

I still don't understand how the Repubs, with a straight face, can claim that there is voter fraud when they keep getting elected/re-elected.  Doesn't it stand to reason that if "dead people" are voting and affecting the outcomes of elections that the people who were elected benefitted from it??

Sid_boots
Sid_boots

well - I am 54 - been working on the same job for 30 years. Been with the same bank for 20...don't have a car and haven't had id in 10 years...Write checks....withdraw money from my bank...rented an apartment....do all these things with no id....so you don't hafta have one to function....lots of people on this thread are speaking about things they don't know! And i am NOT illegal.....Born to an Airforce Master sargent and a store manager for Sears....

Guest
Guest

Texas eliminated the Free ID option before the law was passed (and even when they were considering it, you couldn't get the Free ID at any DL office. You had to go to specific ones, of which there were only a handful statewide)

Or maybe not, I thought I remembered them stripping the free ID out when it went to conference, but now I think I may be misremembering. At any rate, the offices were you can get a free State ID were few and far between (sometimes hundreds of miles away. There's only one in Dallas County, I believe, and in many counties, there are none at all. Some are hundreds of miles away from residents).

and a recent study in SC showed that less than 1% of the voting age population didn't have a govt photo id.

Well gosh, that's only as many as 30,000 people in South Carolina. How many cases of voter fraud have they found in South Carolina?

Carl
Carl

You can measure the bankruptcy of modern education when it comes to teaching any sort of critical thinking by statements like this:

"The ACLU of Texas has said it before, and we say it again: There is absolutely no proof of voter fraud at the polls in Texas. This bill, from the start, was a solution to a problem that does not exist."

Let's see if we can deal with this sort of imbicility gently.

1) Only unsuccessful frauds are detected. A successful fraud, by definition, is undetectable. If you pour half inch ball bearings (current opportunities to vote illegally) through a sieve with one inch openings (current voter validation law and procedures), guess how many ball bearings you catch?

2) The bill is not required to be a solution to a problem you in your half-ass detection methods haven't yet detected (see 1).

The bill is designed to prevent imminently foreseeable and predictable but otherwise undetectable problems (illegal voters voting to direct changes in the law to favor themselves at the expense of legal citizen-voters) from occurring.

We don't prevent our children from playing in the middle of 635 because a child was killed there yesterday. ("There is absolutely no proof any child was killed yesterday playing in the middle of 635, so such a thought, preventing children from playing in the middle of 635, from the start is a solution to a problem that does not exist.") We prevent our children from playing in the middle of 635 because we can foresee the consequences if we do not, and because for several million years now we have not been so stump-fucking-stupid as to wait until one is killed just so we can document the event. Well, all of us but Terri Burke.

Frankly, though, if we could pack our population, particularly this pathetic excuse for an ACLU, with illegal brown aliens from South Asia with statistical levels of intelligence superior to that of the self-disgraced Terri Burke, I might even be against the law myself.

NONE
NONE

those darn drivers licenses make is a burden to just buy a car and go drive it too!  not fair...and showing a picture ID to get on an AIRPLANE and go through the security is absolutely unfair to so many of us....and a passport photo to leave and return to the USA..."ludicrous"

I would like to see numbers and estimates of HOW MANY and WHY potential voters that have voted in the past would TRULY find it impossible to get an ID to vote...and what would be the cost to provide the photo taking directly to them be.   How about some practical and non emotional JimCrow rhetoric for a change.....man, I had to take a photo ID to get my social security started....so what is with Medicare and Medicaid patients...no photo ID required in order not to get the wrong treatment?  When there is OBAMACARE...won't ALL CITIZENS have to have a photo ID with mandatory insurance??

Where is the common sense instead of the humjob foolishness?

Guest
Guest

The Voting Rights Act only requires some states (southern states) to get preclearance for changes in their voting laws. The Department of Justice has to approve such changes before they are allowed to go into effect.

The difference now can either be attributed to the other states not being one of the states covered by the Voting Rights Act, or it could be that they passed their laws during the previous administration and that DoJ was more willing to preclear such laws.

There may also be specifics in the law that are questionable when it comes to Constitutionality. Poll taxes aren't legal, for example (which is why your voter registration application is postage paid), so by not offering a free State ID option, the DoJ may believe that aspect of the law doesn't pass Constitutional muster.

Ultimately, this will probably end up in the Federal Courts, and I imagine the law will ultimately be upheld (since the Supreme Court has upheld other Voter ID laws). At most, it might require a little tweaking (maybe offering no cost IDs or expanding the number of acceptable forms of ID).

RTGolden
RTGolden

You cannot buy an M-16, legally, anywhere in the United States. The M-16 is a government issued, selective fire, gas-operated, semi/automatic rifle.  There are many civilian variants of the M-16, which also cannot just be bought and walked around with.  The M-16 and it's civilian counterparts are restricted firearms (clearly a constitutional violation, but, in this case, a sensible and laudable one) requiring a single scope background investigation and a minimum 5-day waiting period.  To purchase one with a magazine capacity greater than 5, or one with an upper receiver capable of delivering fully automatic fire, one must qualify for and possess a Class III firearms license, a federal license.  You must present a valid photo ID in any state to purchase any firearm legally.

Your argument isn't without merit, but you're arguing from a position of ignorance instead of factual authority.  Get your facts straight, re-work and re-word your argument, and come back to astound us.

To beat back your first rebuttal, I know the prisons are not full of people who illegally bought or sold firearms, the laws are weak and toothless.  By the same token, the prisons are not full of people who voted fraudulently either.

NONE
NONE

go try to get your Social Security payments started if you are 75 years old, don't drive, born at home and see what kind of SPECIAL consideration you get at the computer terminal sign in...no human there, where you enter your number and you then produce a PHOTO ID when you get to finally talk with a human......

your constitutional rights have nothing to do with voter procedures....only with not having to pass a written test or pay a fee.

Russp
Russp

At least in Texas (not sure about other states), you have to show a valid license to purchase a gun. The hoops you have to jump through to exercise your right to bear arms are even more restrictive (classes, written and skills tests, background check, fingerprints).

Jd
Jd

Punish the masses for the rights of the few!   I like it.

Facebook User
Facebook User

Over and over again voter fraud is demonstrated. Sometimes it is done by Republicans, but more frequently than not it is by Democrats. Just a month or two ago we had a huge case here in Dallas. It happens over and over. Almost all of the cases would be eliminated by using ID cards. Get over it. It isn't a conspiracy to keep minorities out of the polls - it is a conspiracy to keep them (and anyone else) from voting twice.

Jay
Jay

Hannibal's the WINNER. 1st reference to Nazi/Hitler/Fascism in a debate.

Seriously, its 2012 and some of you don't believe possessing a photo identification card is a good idea? Really?

Mike3647
Mike3647

But they also want honest and fair elections.

valetsdoitindrive
valetsdoitindrive

No, they just want less government in their pocketbooks. They want a lot of government in citizens bedrooms, at the altar(who gets to marry), in the classrooms, in a woman's uterus....stuff like that they're all for putting Big Government's nose in. "Just keep your paws off my wallet"[GOP mantra]

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

You can get Security Security, Medicare, Medicaid, WIC and food stamps with a social security card.  That is not a government issued PHOTO ID.  Those do not contain nor require a photo identification card.

Your premise is factually incorrect.

fedup
fedup

You need to check out the voter registration fraud Indiana had already this year. How about New Hampshire? Have you bothered to check out the voter fraud that occurred last year? I doubt it, yet you sit there an say there is no voter fraud.. Pathetic!!   By the way I'm a Democrat but I live by rights right and wrong is wrong regardless who's doing it!!

cvote
cvote

Funny how no one brings up voter fruad as an explination for this years Republican Iowa Caucus vote change.

pak152
pak152

"Some are hundreds of miles away from residents)." and the Democrats wouldn't find a way of transporting such people for free to get the id? or the Republicans? one more argument shot down

pak152
pak152

a recent examination of the voter rolls in SC identified over 900 names of dead people that as voting in recent elections. . and so 30K people who don't have a photo id are provided with a means in the SC law to obtain the id for FREE. sorry but your arguments against the law continue to leak  water

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Russp -- I can walk into any gun show and walk out with a firearm without showing a government issued photo id.

Guest
Guest

We had a huge case in Dallas where people were indicted for doing what Mitt Romney did (registering to vote and voting from a residence that is not your own).

Where's the Mitt Romney indictment?

Also, would Voter ID have prevented the Medrano thing? The relatives weren't voting as someone else, they were registered and voting from a residence that wasn't theirs.

Facebook User
Facebook User

Brenda, I confirmed that you are incorrect. You cannot cash a Social Security Check without a photo ID. Additionally, you cannot use Medicare or Medicaid without a photo ID. You can't get your WIC/FoodStamp card without a photo ID. Where are you getting your info?

NONE
NONE

I had to show a photo ID and an original birth certificate to get social security. your facts are wrong.

Russp
Russp

Which is also why there is so much fraud in these programs.

joejoethedogfaceboy
joejoethedogfaceboy

I didn't say there wasn't voter fraud, I'm merely pointing out that if there truly is enough voter fraud that actually affects the outcome of elections then the people who benefitted from it are the ones already in office!

Links, please, to the voter fraud stories, but leave out any that reference James O'keefe.  The only thing he has proved is that *he* committed voter fraud, not anyone else.  

Phelps
Phelps

That's because caucuses aren't run using general polling.

That's like saying it is funny how no one complains about bad fish at KFC.

Guest
Guest

Hundreds of miles is a long way.

I can see organizing trips to the regular DMW, but a 4-hour trip with strangers (and when the additional 65 offices are closed, we're looking at 10-12 hour and longer trips for some)? I'm skeptical.

(In North Carolina, Gov. Haley promised to drive everyone who didn't have an ID to the office herself. Once she found out how large the list was, she immediately backed off that promise).

And, here's the thing. There's no reason to not have the Free ID option available wherever a person can get a DL. Those offices are far more convenient and exist in every county in Texas (rather than in only 77 counties currently, with 65 slated to be closed).

The only reason to make it so difficult to get a Free ID is to prevent people from getting them. And there's only two reasons to try to prevent someone from getting one, the big one being to keep them from voting.

(and, during this debate, it was proposed that Texas get rid of early voting and online/mail drivers license renewals. The only reasons to propose such things is to make it more difficult for people to vote).

wolfmagic
wolfmagic

According to George Washington University law professor, Spencer Overton, a former member of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, "the existing evidence suggests that the type of fraud addressed by photo ID requirements is extraordinarily small and that the number of eligible citizens who would be denied their right to vote as a result... is exceedingly large." And now we see firsthand that the proof is in the pudding. And there's no proof to support the need for these voter ID laws.

Guest
Guest

By the by, the Republican Attorney General of South Carolina who made the claim that 953 dead people had voted in the election has only released six actual names so far.

Of those, One was an absentee ballot cast by a voter who then died before election day; Another was the result of an error by a poll worker who mistakenly marked the voter as Samuel Ferguson, Jr. when the voter was in fact Samuel Ferguson, III; Two were the result of stray marks on the voter registration list detected by the scanner – again, a clerical error; The final two were the result of poll managers incorrectly marking the name of the voter in question instead of the voter listed either above or below on the list.

You'd think if he had the goods on somebody (let alone 953 somebodies), he'd make a point of releasing those names rather than a small handful that have other explanations.

Guest
Guest

You keep playing the "it's no big deal to get an ID card", so yeah, if it actually is no big deal, then it's not a problem.

But for some people, it's a big deal. So preventing 30,000 people from voting to prevent possibly 953 fraudulent votes (and there's been no investigation yet. In previous instances, it was discovered that a large number of "dead voters" were found to be people signing the wrong line or poll workers checking off the wrong name, so that 953 might well be) is unbalanced.

And at least some of those 953 ballots were absentee, which Voter ID does nothing to prevent. (The Republican election official who first released the story said the problem could also be from voters casting absentee ballots before their deaths or by data errors.Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/...) so we may be talking about less than a dozen actual, in-person fraudulent votes. So to prevent that, we need to disenfranchise 30,000 people.

fedup
fedup

@ Brenda  Key words "gun show"... You won't do that at a "Gun Store" any where. Have to show ID when brought brand new.. Then there's the waiting period and ID check with the government..  Besides states that issue ID's to vote as a rule give them to you free. IMO a person has to show an ID for many things so unless they have something to hide nothing wrong with voter ID...

NONE
NONE

riding in the back of a pickup is illegal for kids.  lol....what happens if the 500 mph airplane hits a mountain like a car hitting a wall?  Carseats not so important as a sponge to retrieve the DNA stains.

Russp
Russp

Very true, I've never understood that loophole but then our government is not very good at making sense. Some of my favorites; everyone in a vehicle has to wear a seatbelt but it's OK to ride in the back of the pickup or I can ride my mororcycle at 70mph with no helmet but have to have a helmet on my 20mph bicycle. And one more; your kid must be in a child seat going 50mph in a car but not 500mph in an airplane.

fedup
fedup

None you are correct. Why is it so hard to understand for some people?  I was born at home without a birth certificate issued so when I retired I had to go to court with witness' to my birth to get one BEFORE I could get social security..  Wasn't any big deal to me. 

NONE
NONE

ay caramba es verdad!

Mikey
Mikey

Most of the Medicare fraud is by hospitals and doctors.

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