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Looking for ways to ensure Election Integrity

March 6, 2017

We strongly support making sure every registered voter gets the opportunity to vote.  At the same time we want to ensure all those who come to vote can be identified.  The Texas voter ID bill was an effort to do both.  First it required a photo ID (e.g., a driver’s license, a concealed carry permit, a certificate of citizenship, a passport, etc.).  For those individuals who didn’t have one of the acceptable forms of photo ID, the state legislature provided for a free Election Identification Certificate (EIC).  In order to get an EIC you needed to have a birth certificate.  The state legislature also saw to it that getting a birth certificate was free if the purpose was to get the Election ID.

Then an Obama-appointed federal court justice ruled that the Texas law was discriminatory.  In the last session those opposed to the Voter ID law said 600,000 people were being disenfranchised by it.  In November 2016 (the largest election we’ve ever had) less than 16,500 people statewide voted with one of the federal court’s-imposed alternative IDs, a far cry from the 600,000 figure.

The federal judge forced major changes to our election processes.  These changes included:

  • Allowing voters to make up any excuse (impediment) as to why they didn’t have an acceptable photo ID;
  • Prohibiting election workers from questioning the reasonableness of the impediment or the address shown on the alternative form of ID; and
  • Allowing the voters without an acceptable photo ID to show a utility bill, bank statement, or any government document – each of which would only need to have the voter’s name on it and “an” address (not necessarily their own).

So, under this court order a person with an expired driver’s license from Minnesota was, along with a signed impediment form, allowed to vote a regular ballot.

The current Texas legislature is currently considering enacting legislation that would codify much of the Federal judge’s order.  Their reasoning is that by doing so they can avoid further claims that Texas’ voter ID law is discriminatory.  The problem with this approach is that it also creates loopholes that can be used to circumvent the integrity of our elections here in Texas.  This legislation is a train coming down the track and it cannot be stopped!

Given this reality, we have some suggestions to help improve this legislation.

  • You could require all alternate forms of IDs to have the same address as the voter’s registered address;
  • You could also require that in order to be an acceptable “government document” it had to be either from the state of Texas or the federal government (thereby eliminating the ability to use an out-of-state document like an expired Minnesota driver’s license);  and
  • You could require that alternative forms of ID (like bank statements and utility bills) be dated within sixty days of the election.

Making these modifications would help guard the integrity of the election process while not disadvantaging registered voters.

Bill, Mark, and John

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