The federal government is again trying to keep Texas from implementing its voter ID law. US Attorney General Eric Holder filed suit Thursday against the state, saying its voter ID law purposefully discriminated against minorities and violates the 14thand 15th Amendments. He wants the voter ID law declared unconstitutional, but goes a step further by saying Texas needs to be “bailed-in” to federal oversight under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act. It would make Texas only the second state to be “bailed-in.” Arkansas is the only other state which has to get pre-clearance.
The question is whether Texas’ voter ID law (SB 14) is actually racist. Looking at the text, which is still on the Texas Legislature’s website, it’s not. Not even close to racist, despite what Democrats say.
The bill is pretty simple: it requires everyone who wants to vote to have a state-issued photo ID, US military ID, a citizen’s certificate with a photo, a Texas conceal carry permit or a US passport. The biggest exception is for people who are disabled and can present their voter’s voter registration certificate.
Not only that; Texas gives people plenty of opportunities to get an ID without putting too much strain on the pocketbook. It costs $16 to get a new Texas ID for anyone under the age of 59. They expire every six years and can be renewed online. It costs $6 for anyone over the age of 59 to get one. They never expire. Not only that, people can apply for a Texas Election Identification Certificate. Those don’t cost anything. Not one red cent.
Holder’s lawsuit claims there are no drivers license offices in “score of Texas counties.” This is actually partially true. There are counties which don’t have DMVs; however parts of Texas are very rural, and the people who live there are probably used to traveling long distances to get places. Not only that, but DMV offices tend to be run by demand. Some offices, like Jim Hogg County’s are open from 9a to 5p. In Dallas, the Mega Center opens at 7:30a until 6p, while the others open at 8a and run until 5p (with extended hours on Tuesday). This gives people plenty of time to get their licenses or ID cards, even if they have to takeDART. Plus, renewals can be done online or by mail.
Not only that, but Texans without ID can cast provisional ballots. So they can still vote, even if they don’t have an ID.
So why is Holder bringing the suit?
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott believes this is all about not wanting to prevent voter fraud. He may be right here. Over half of U.S. states have voter ID laws, with Hawaii’s dating back to 1978. So, on the surface, they must work at reducing voter fraud. Holder still hasn’t commented on the Cameron County woman who was indicted two days before DoJ’s suit for voter fraud. This can be added to the long list of voter fraud in Texas history. It exists and it needs to be stopped.
But Abbott doesn’t just stop at saying Holder’s opposition to voter ID is just because he doesn’t want to stop voter fraud. Abbott thinks it may be more political and he’s probably right.
Holder has sued Texas over voter ID, and is also thinking about suing North Carolina. Both are states which vote Republican more than they do Democrat. One state Holder hasn’t sued over voter ID is Rhode Island. Rhode Island’s voter ID law requires either photo ID or government issued ID to be able to vote. The secretary of state noted last September, only two provisional ballots were passed during the primary. This means most people had an ID. One registered Democrat even told the New York Times she had no problem with the law because, “it avoids fraud and makes things clear — you vote and you say who you are.”
Rhode Island has a bit of a mixed electoral history, but tends to put more Democrats than Republicans in office.
So if voter ID disenfranchises people, why not challenge the voter ID laws in all three states? If the Constitution applies equally to all 50 states, why not file a lawsuit when states allegedly violate it regardless of their political affiliation? Or is Holder simply targeting states which are resistant to President Obama’s agenda? Both Texas and North Carolina rejected Medicare expansion under Obamacare. Both Texas and North Carolina have outlawed gay marriage. Texas has filed multiple lawsuits against the federal government for allegedly (and probably) overstepping its Constitutional authority on issues.
Only Holder, and to a degree Obama, know why the suits over voter ID have been filed. But suggesting it’s simply because Holder is trying to keep racism from happening may not be the entire truth. And Greg Abbott and Governor Rick Perry are determined to keep fighting and, unfortunately but necessarily, spending more state taxpayer funds to do so. After all, the federal government doesn’t mind spending taxpayer funds for lawsuits. And protecting the 10th Amendment is always worth fighting for.