The voter ID bill is another of those efforts on the part of Tea Party Republicans in Texas to disenfranchise a great swath of normally Democratic voters.
It’s a bad idea and, if approved by the Department of Justice, it will make it more difficult for a lot of Milam County’s working poor and elderly, students away at college, and minorities to vote.
I won’t go into all the reasons voter ID is a bad idea — except to make a couple of observations.
One of the arguments in favor of voter ID is that most people have to show a photo ID in order to accomplish all sorts of normal, every day tasks like cashing a check or buying an airline ticket. Why should it be easier to vote than to cash a check?
Well, here’s why: those every day tasks that normally require an ID are privileges, not rights guaranteed under our Constitution. Check cashing is a privilege. Voting is a right. The trend toward universal suffrage has been part of our democratic civilization for generations. Most democracies work to extend voting rights. Our state is actively trying to suppress voting rights.
Making it difficult to vote is the same as curtailing your rights to speak your mind, practice your religion, assemble peacefully, or (for some) own a gun. And while we all agree that society has an interest in making sure that only “responsible” people should own a fire arm, I doubt that anyone would want to apply the same argument to going to church or reading a newspaper.
We were told that this bill was passed to protect the integrity of the ballot box and to protect our elections against voter fraud. This argument would hold water but for two things:
- Incidents of vote fraud by individuals are exceedingly rare. Most fraud is conducted on a grander scale (like Duval County in Texas or Dade County in Florida);
- The one area that is vulnerable to vote fraud is mail-in ballots. Indeed, there have actually been some problems in this area yet, under this new law, you don’t have to show a photo ID in order to vote by mail.
The good news is this: the voter ID legislation must be approved by the Department of Justice and, so far, it hasn’t been (though I’m not taking any bets, right now).
BTW: If it wins DOJ approval, this law won’t be effective until Jan. 1, 2012 — and won’t be applied until the March 2012 Primary Elections. Further, part of the legislation is an effort to “educate voters” about the new law. We’ll see … but educating, registering and helping voters find success at the polls in November will be a central component of the county party’s efforts in 2012. If you are interested in being part of that effort, get in touch.
- Strict Voter Photo ID Laws Tripled (abcnews.go.com)
- Voter Suppression and Voter ID (hcvoice.wordpress.com)