Requiring ID at polls common sense?
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 NOT BE REQUIRED TO SHOW AN ID, click HERE.
When Americans turn out at the polls, they should have to show identification.
State Representative Todd Hunter said he thinks it's a matter of common sense.
"It seems very practical that you should be able to show who you are when you vote," Hunter said. "You have to have photo identification when you cash a check or ride on an airplane, so why doesn't it make sense to show that the person who is voting is actually the person on the photo identification?"
While some say this is an issue about immigration or about keeping those who don't have cars and are on the fringes of society from voting, Hunter said the issue is simply about identification.
Party politics have turned it into something else, but the question itself is one of common sense, Hunter said. He noted that a number of states have successfully imposed similar laws with success, but the political tug-of-war has given the issue an emotional charge that doesn't naturally belong to it.
"It has become more of an issue between the parties. Sometimes when the parties disagree, it becomes more of a emotional issue than a practical issue, and that is what has happened here," he said.
State Representative Geanie Morrison agreed.
She said the point of the law is to protect the integrity of the electoral process and to ensure every vote counted was legally cast.
Morrison noted that a recent election in Victoria was decided by only a few votes, and that an election in Aransas County was decided by a single vote.
"Each and every vote is important, and people need to realize how important that is. If there had been a fraudulent vote it could have swung the election either way," she said.
While those against the law have argued it is difficult to obtain the required identification, Morrison argued voters can obtain a free photo ID from the Department of Public Safety if they don't have other acceptable government identification.
Some have likened the law to a poll tax or literacy tests once used to keep minorities and the poor from voting, but Morrison said she feels those days of discrimination are a thing of the past.
She said studies show states that have imposed identification laws have seen a higher voter turnout than before the laws were in place. A voter ID law could actually encourage people to vote by giving them more confidence in their electoral system.
"We've made it so easy to vote that people just kind of take it for granted," she said. "When you see that we have put together a law so that everyone's vote is cast legally, it gives people a way to feel confident that their vote really matters. We want everyone who is qualified to vote."