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“Everybody needs an ID. You need one to cash a check or do almost anything. They’re not hard to get, and if we want to stop voter fraud it makes perfect sense to require a photo ID for voting.”
That’s essentially the argument made by the Texas legislature when they passed SB 14, the Texas photo ID law, in 2011. And it’s the argument made today.
Gov. Abbott says we need the photo ID law to combat “rampant” fraud.
Others say the idea that the only real reason to pass SB 14 was to limit voting by disadvantaged populations, including especially poor, elderly and minority voters, all of whom tend to vote for Democratic candidates in larger proportions than the general population. In fact, five times recently, federal judges have found that the Texas law requiring photo ID was discriminatory – that it violated the constitutional requirement of “equal protection of the laws.” The most recent finding, in fact, held that the Texas legislature had intentionally discriminated.
These opponents of the law say Voter ID is “a solution in search of a problem.” There’s essentially no fraud occurring, so passing laws and creating bureaucracies to fix fraud is itself a fraud.
Opponents also dismiss the argument that goes: “You have to have a photo ID to open a bank account, buy beer, get a drivers license, etc.” The most common counterargument is that none of those things is a constitutionally protected right, but voting is, so the comparison is invalid. What do you think?
Before you answer, please do what I always suggest, and “Take a step back, take a deep breath, and think!” Think beyond what might seem to you like the easy obvious answer, whatever you think that easy obvious answer is.
Think about what justifies legislatures in passing bills that everyone has to follow and that cost millions of taxpayer dollars. Should supporters of the voter ID policy be expected to demonstrate that fraud exists in numbers sufficient to justify the cost of implementing the legislation? Since we know that some number of people will be and have been kept from exercising their constitutional right to vote by this legislation, should that fact enter into calculation of the cost?And remember that not everyone lives in an urban area where resources are all around us, making it easy to do seemingly simple things like get a copy of a birth certificate, which could be required documentation for getting one of the IDs that qualify for voting.


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