The Texas state motto is friendship, and even across the political divide in our state Legislature, Texans should hope that everyone is acting in that sense of good faith. It’s hard to maintain that political optimism after reading last week’s opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit explaining how Texas’ voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act. The Legislature passed SB 14, the law in question, in 2011 allegedly with the intent of combatting in-person voter fraud by creating strict limits on the types of identification that can be accepted at voting locations. Before this law, Texans had to present their voter registration card or sign an affidavit while showing one of multiple forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or bank statement. Was there rampant fraud under this system? No, and Texas legislators knew it. “Ballot integrity is undoubtedly a worthy goal,” Justice Catharina Haynes wrote for the court. “But the evidence before the Legislature was that in-person voting, the only concern addressed by SB 14, yielded only two convictions for in-person voter impersonation fraud out of 20 million votes cast in the decade leading up to SB 14’s passage.”
Would this bill uniquely burden voters who had historically been denied access to the ballot box? Yes, and Texas legislators knew that, too. “The record shows that drafters and proponents of SB 14 were aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities, and that they nonetheless passed the bill without adopting a number of proposed ameliorative measures that might have lessened this impact,” wrote Haynes, who was appointed to her position by President George W. Bush.
The opinion even pointed out that state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, testified at the time that the “Voting Rights Act has outlived its useful life.”
If there was no problem to fix, then we can only imagine two reasons why legislators were promoting this bill. At worst, they were actively trying to suppress minority voters. At best, they were promoting voter ID not as a tool to improve our voting system, but as a cudgel to strike fear and conspiracy into the hearts of Texans.
Full Article: Election fraud – Houston Chronicle.