Voters should not be required to show ID
by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Aug. 12, 2012 at 3:12 a.m.
Updated Aug. 13, 2012 at 3:13 a.m.
Last year, state lawmakers passed a bill requiring all voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. According to the law, voters would have to show a driver's license or some other official photo ID to get to cast their vote.
Texas isn't the first state to pass such a law. A number of states have put similar laws in place in recent years.
Proponents say the laws protect against voter fraud, while those against the law assert these specific requirements are designed to keep people from voting. The result has been a deeply political debate over whether or not you should be showing your driver's license before getting to a voting booth.
Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill into law in May 2011, but it has yet to go into effect.
Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Texas is required to get "pre-clearance" from the federal Department of Justice before making any changes to voting law. The Justice Department denied approval, and now a federal, three-judge panel is expected to rule on the law at the end of the month.
TO READ WHY VOTERS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO SHOW AN ID, click HERE.
American voters should not be required to show photo identification before walking into a voting booth this November.
Kelli Gill, the chairwoman of the Victoria County Democratic Party, said she is against the voter ID law. While those in favor of the law say it would protect the integrity of elections, Gill said she feels such a law might keep citizens from voting.
"We should be encouraging people to vote and participate in democracy, not actively discouraging them," Gill said. "It would be one thing if they could prove voter fraud is a problem but it's not. There are more cases of people getting hit by lightning than there is of convicted voter fraud."
With voter turnout already a problem, Gill said she feels it is foolish to do anything else that might keep people from having a voice in the kind of government they want. Under the current law, World War II veterans won't be able to use their Veteran Affairs IDs, she said. While it is expected that most people have driver's licenses or some form of government ID, there are those who don't ever learn to drive, or who can't afford to own a car and thus don't need a license. People who don't have the identification specified by the law, won't be able to vote, keeping their voices silent.
"The law is really meant to discourage people from voting especially minorities, young individuals, elderly individuals who tend to vote Democrat," she said.
Nick Picasso, of Victoria, agreed.
"I think if a person pays taxes they should be able to vote," Picasso said. "If you do that why should there be anything else standing between you and being able to vote? Why should you then have to have an ID?"
Kathy Hunt, the president of the League of Women Voters of Victoria, said her organization has also come out against the law, over concern that it will keep potential voters from the polls.
"Voter turnout is dismally low. Just in general, we need whatever incentives we can have in place, and we need to educate and encourage voters to take advantage of their precious right," Hunt said.
She noted that if people don't vote, the government doesn't reflect their views or what they want, so it's important to ensure that everyone who wants to vote will be given the opportunity.
Gill agreed, noting that we get the government we vote for, so lawmakers should do everything they can to make sure people's voices are being heard in the polls. The voter identification law could get in the way of that happening.
"We already have people who don't seem to be invested in what their government does," she said "It's like we're almost creating a system where we don't want to have people be involved, but just want to be sheep and be led and not have a voice in the choices that the government makes."