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Making Sense of the Voter ID Law

October 27, 2014

With Election Day right around the corner we’d like to talk about Voter ID.

As you probably know, a Federal Judge in Corpus Christi – who was appointed by the current President – found the Texas Voter ID bill unconstitutional, likening it to a “poll tax,” saying it was discriminatory.  The apparent reasoning was that even though prospective voters can get a free election voter identification, a birth certificate is required to obtain one and birth certificates typically cost $3  -- hence the Judge’s calling it a “poll tax!”

The judge found that “600,000 prospective voters” would be excluded from voting because of the Texas Voter ID law.  We don’t know where she came up with that figure and can tell you these voters are certainly are not living in Galveston County!  Look at what our County Election officials have reported…

  • There have been eight elections in Galveston County  since June 2013 when Voter ID law was implemented
  • Since that time 58,195 votes were cast
  • 620 provisional ballots were voted
  • Of the provisional ballots 59 were Voter ID-related
  • Only 37 Voter ID-related provisional ballots have actually been rejected
  • That means that about .064% of the ballots cast (or less than .1%) were rejected based upon the voter not having an acceptable ID. 

This is a far cry from 600,000 voters claimed by the Federal Judge!

But what about those who didn’t bother voting because they lacked an acceptable ID?  There is no way to quantify how many, if any, potential voters fit into this category.   But there are some anecdotal reports.   For example, the voter who walked into the Joe Faggard Community Center in Crystal Beach and said he didn’t have a photo ID.  He was offered the opportunity to vote a provisional ballot but refused.  Then he stormed out, got into his car and drove off.  This means that either he had an acceptable ID and was just trying to make a statement or he was driving illegally -- because a Texas driver’s license is required in order to drive and it’s also an acceptable ID for voting!

In order for the judge to overturn the Voter ID law she needed conclude that the Texas legislature intended to discriminate.  Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was stuck down by the Supreme Court and Section 3 – upon which the Justice Department based its suit – requires that there be intent to discriminate.  In our view it is a really big stretch to suggest that the Texas legislature intended to discriminate when it passed the Voter ID bill – a really big strrrrrrretch!  The legislative’s debate made it clear the bill was about ensuring the integrity of the election process, not discrimination.

In our view the findings of the judge in Corpus Christi are flawed and not supported by what we see going on around us.  But just for the sake of argument let’s assume having a Voter ID requirement is discriminatory.  Let’s extend her thinking to its next logical step.  Photo IDs are required at airports, to purchase alcoholic beverages, to start bank accounts, to cash a check, and even sitting for the SAT/College Board exams.  So, if these activities require a photo ID are they also discriminatory?  Of course not, and neither is Voter ID!

We feel strongly that every registered voter should be able to vote while those who would threaten the integrity of the election process need to be stopped. The Voter ID requirement does both!

Bill, Mark and John