Poll Check in Texas
By Rob Scott
Texas requiring government-issued photo identifications to vote is in the state’s interest for preventing voter fraud and keeping the state’s elections fair.
Before the recently passed Texas law requiring photo identification to vote, Texas already required eleven different forms of identification to vote but not a photo requirement. According to the Texas Attorney General, during a time when identification is easily fabricated, the new law requires photo identification for increased precaution.
An example of issues in Texas with voter fraud was revealed by a Houston-based nonpartisan group called True the Vote. Their efforts focused on 2009 local elections in Houston and showed poll workers and county workers defectively running the polls and allowing many voters to vote without showing any form of identification. Also, the group found thousands of voters being registered at vacant lots, abandoned homes and even business locations.
Texas’s main argument for the voter photo identification law is that the state is trying to implement a common-sense requirement that when a voter shows up at a poll to vote, the voter must prove who they are with photo identification.
Also, Texas has pointed to a Supreme Court case upholding voter photo identification requirements. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, with Justice John Paul Stevens writing the majority opinion, stating the burdens placed on voters by the Indiana law requiring voter-photo identification were limited to a small percentage of the population and were offset by Indiana’s interest in reducing voter fraud. According to Justice Stevens, the protection of the public’s confidence in elections was paramount.
President Obama’s administration, through the Justice Department, claims the Texas law is discriminatory towards minorities and should be struck down. According to the Justice Department, 1.4 million registered voters lack any form of government-issued identification that would be acceptable under the Texas law.
However, Texas claims the majority of their voters already have photo identification and the number the Justice Department cites is incorrect. According to the Texas Attorney General, of the 1.4 million, 50,000 are deceased, 330,000 are over the age of 65 and can vote by mail where no photo identification is required and there are more than 800,000 who are improperly on the list.
Similarly to the Crawford case, Texas has an interest in preventing voter fraud by those making fake voter registrations, voter impersonations, and even voting numerous times. Across the U.S., 11 states have enacted voter identification laws, including Ohio.
Nationally, voter identification laws are popular amongst registered voters. A 2011 Rasmussen poll found 75 percent of likely voters believe voters should be required to show photo identification before being allowed to vote. Also, the poll showed 85 percent support among Republicans, 63 percent support among Democrats, and 77 percent support among unaffiliated voters.
Understandably, one of the most democratic ideals is a citizen’s right to vote. However, one’s vote can be diminished if illegal votes are introduced into the system. In order for any government, more specifically Texas, to prevent this travesty from happening, some “checks” on the identification of an individual voting must be put into place. In an age of identity theft and ever-advancing technology, government must respond to protect the validity of election results.
Showing some form of government-issued photo identification is exactly what happens every day when making a purchase at a store with a credit card, writing and cashing a check, boarding an airplane and even for younger citizens purchasing alcohol.
For Texas and any other state to ask the same to vote in no way hinders the system but rather strengthens and protects it. Voting is a precious right and Texas has every right to protect it..