Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's Wrong With Voter ID Laws?

I've heard endless arguments about the voter ID laws, especially the one on the books here in Texas, and I must confess that I still don't understand the problem some people have with them.

I mean, what is wrong with proving that you are authorized to vote? You have to present such ID to buy alcohol or cigarettes. You have to present such ID when you apply for a loan or if you're going to rent a vehicle or an apartment — or a motel room.

The vice president has been beating that drum about voter ID laws being racist and fueled by hatred.

I am an independent, and I have found no compelling reason to vote in either party's primary this year (early voting here ends Friday; the primaries are next Tuesday) so I can't speak firsthand about experience with the voter ID law, in effect for the first time.

(Voters in Texas do not register by party so it's largely a personal affiliation kind of thing. When you go to the polls, you are asked in which party's primary you wish to vote.

(If there is a runoff, you can only vote in the party in which you voted in the original primary. But two years later, when the next primaries are held, you can choose the one in which you want to vote all over again. You are not committed to a party beyond the current primary.)

They've been issuing voter ID cards here in Texas for years — new ones are sent out every two years — and voters are supposed to present them when they vote. Now, apparently, additional ID is required as well.

I've heard it said that voter ID laws are racist, that they are intended to prevent minorities from participating.

But here's what it says at
Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID:
  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person's photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person's photograph
  • United States passport
With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.
How does that prevent anyone from voting? And if a qualified voter doesn't have any of those, at the top of the website is this sentence: Qualified voters without an approved photo ID may obtain a free Election Identification Card from DPS. Look at the site all you want. It doesn't say anything about literacy tests or any of that other stuff.

And I haven't heard a single report of anyone being denied the right to vote in this primary season. I assume that, if someone had been denied the right to vote, that person would have been worth a lot to the anti–voter ID crowd, which is almost exclusively Democrats (who have been in the political minority in this state for decades) — and, consequently, we would have heard something about it by now. Early voting has been going on for more than a week now. Haven't heard a thing. So again I ask: What's the problem? Before he was elected vice president, before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, Joe Biden was a lawyer, a product of the Syracuse School of Law. He should know that, in the United States, the law requires evidence to prove guilt, that everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Where is his evidence that voter ID laws are racist?

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