Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a panel of federal appeals court judges in Texas last week ruled against the state’s Voter ID law. They agreed that the law violated the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, because it disproportionately impacted Latino and African-American voters. In response, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement, “Texas will continue to fight for its voter ID requirement to ensure the integrity of elections in the Lone Star State.” Texas’ Voter ID law is a solution in search of a problem. While in theory it fights voter fraud, in reality it has disenfranchised thousands of minority voters. Texas’ Voter ID law deserves to be amended or dismantled so that all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot box. True, these days a valid ID is necessary to board a plane or to buy alcohol. But travelling or buying beer is not a constitutional right; voting is.
Texas has the strictest voter ID law in the country. People can vote only if they show a driver’s license, passport, concealed handgun license, or an election identification certificate from the Department of Public Safety. But not everyone has these documents. The law creates problems for people who may not have been born in state, for those who don’t drive or whose license has expired, and for those without the resources to visit one of the state’s Department of Public Safety offices.
Other forms of government-issued photo I.D. are not acceptable as proof of identity to vote in Texas, including government employee I.D. cards or student I.D. cards from the state’s public colleges. Voter registration cards are not accepted either.