Attorney General Greg Abbott champions a requirement for voters to show photo identification to prevent ballot fraud. But such a rule would have deterred just a few of the cases his office has prosecuted in the last eight years. Abbott, who’s making his defense of the state’s voter ID law a centerpiece of his campaign for governor, has pursued 66 people on charges of voting irregularities since 2004. Only four cases involved someone illegally casting a ballot at a polling place where a picture ID would have prevented it. In most cases, voter-fraud violations in Texas have involved mail-in ballots. A few involved felons who aren’t allowed to vote. Some involved an election official engaged in illegal behavior. But none of those would have been stopped by the photo ID requirement. Nevertheless, Abbott defends voter ID and says the fact that he hasn’t found many cases of in-person voter fraud doesn’t mean there aren’t any.
In his most extensive interview on the issue as attorney general, Abbott cited a Supreme Court opinion upholding photo ID in an Indiana case. The high court suggested the presence of absentee-vote fraud likely means voter-impersonation is happening as well. “Anyone who thinks there isn’t cheating going on at the ballot box is wrong,” Abbott said. “It doesn’t matter that the cheating is in-person voter impersonation or absentee ballot. The Supreme Court says it doesn’t matter. What matters more is the integrity of the election system.”
The attorney general’s role defending the law and his record prosecuting voter fraud cases, mostly against Democrats and racial minorities, could become an issue in next year’s elections, when Abbott is seeking the GOP nomination for governor.
… “If you really wanted to go after all the voter irregularities, you’d be looking at mail ballots,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the San Antonio Democrat who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. “You’d be looking at poll worker activity and electioneering. You’d be looking at the aggressive groups that are out there intimidating voters when they stand in line at a polling place.”
Fischer said Abbott’s own record prosecuting few cases in which photo ID would have been effective suggests the requirement is about putting obstacles in the way of Democratic voters, not stopping illegal voting.