While Voter ID advocates rail against voter fraud and Voter ID foes warn of certain voter disenfranchisement, the rest of us are left to endure the faux crisis visited upon the sanctity of the ballot and the ballot box. Whether Texas’ law passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature this summer requiring voters to present photo identification to cast a ballot goes into effect depends on whether the U.S. Department of Justice gives its OK, which is required under the Voting Rights Act. And the DOJ appears more sympathetic to foes of the law than advocates.
Regardless of which way the DOJ goes, the matter will likely be appealed by the losing side — which means in addition to enduring the shrill partisan battle over a matter we’re not all that sure is worthy of waging, Texas taxpayers will pick up the tab for the ensuing courtroom showdowns.
Here far away from the frontline of this incivil tussle, it’s not all that clear Texas needs to require all voters present photo IDs to counter fraud, but it’s also not clear the new law requiring it is as onerous as foes claim it to be. Aside from stories of Lyndon Johnson’s having been the beneficiary in one case of ballot-box stuffing and the victim in another, the evidence of voter fraud in the Lone Star State is more the stuff of rumors and innuendo than credible evidence.
And claims the law is designed to suppress votes by targeting those least likely to have photo IDs — the poor, the elderly and Hispanics — is difficult to reconcile in a time when such identification is as common as cell phones and, in fact, required for a variety of day-to-day activities.
The DOJ said in mid-November it couldn’t say yea or nay on the law because the state didn’t provide the racial breakdown and counties of residence of the estimated 605,576 registered voters the state says do not have a state-issued license or ID. They also want to know how many of those have Spanish surnames.