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Editorial: Voter ID law helps elections maintain integrity
Baylor Lariat
September 18, 2013

Voter ID laws are a contentious issue throughout the country. People on both sides of the political spectrum become fired up when this issue is debated.

Those that support voter ID laws state they are necessary to prevent voter fraud while those that are in opposition claim that these laws disenfranchise the poor and minorities, both groups that lean Democrat, from voting.

The 82nd Texas Legislature passed a voter ID law in 2011 and very quickly saw the law blocked by the Justice Department and in federal court.

However, this year the Supreme Court ruled 5-4, striking down the portion of Section 4 in the Voting Right Acts of 1965 that determined the criteria used to require states or jurisdictions to be subject the Justice Department’s oversight.

After the ruling, Texas announced the voter ID law passed in 2011 would take effect immediately. On Aug. 22, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration announced it would sue to halt the Texas requirement of showing a valid photo ID to vote.

Requiring a form of photo identification to vote is important for the integrity of elections. Recall the turmoil in the 2000 election that ultimately led to George W. Bush becoming president instead of Al Gore. Recall the accusations of voter fraud after both of Obama’s elections.

Many people have lost faith in the election process.

As a country, we need to take vital steps to ensure the integrity of elections. The first step in the process is to ensure that only those that are legally allowed to vote actually vote. Government-issued photo IDs are the way to accomplish this.

There are those that argue against voter ID laws, alleging there are very few actual cases of voter fraud.

However, there are two fundamental flaws with this argument: first, just because the number of substantiated cases is low does not mean fraud has not been occurring. Second, if your party were in power, would you actively seek to prosecute those that voted you into office?

Others argue that requiring a photo ID to vote puts an unfair burden on those that are in the lower income bracket. The Legislature took actions to accommodate for that through several means.

First, if you are disabled as determined by the Social Security Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs and do not have proper identification, you can receive a permanent exemption.

Second, SB 14 allows the Texas Department of Public Safety to issue an Election Identification Certificate free of charge to those eligible voters that do not have a valid form of photo ID.

To qualify for this program, you have to provide documentation to verify your U.S. citizenship and your identity as well as being eligible to vote in Texas, reside in Texas, and be at least 17 years and 10 months old.

Opponents also argue that voter ID laws disenfranchise minority voters.

However, a Pew Hispanic poll in 2012 shows that 71 percent of Latino registered voters support voter ID laws. This is similar to the 77 percent of all registered voters in the poll supporting voter ID laws.

Furthermore, according to a McClatchy-Marist Poll in 2013, 83 percent of adults and 84 percent of registered voters support voter ID laws.

The same poll shows that 72 percent of Democrats, 99 percent of Republicans, and 87 percent of independents support voter ID laws.

When looking at political ideology, very liberal and liberal respondents favor voter ID laws by 65 percent, moderates by 86 percent, and conservative and very conservative respondents by 94 percent.

In fact, regardless of how you look at the data in terms of region of the country, household income, education levels, race, age or gender, more than three-quarters of respondents favored some sort of voter ID laws.

These numbers indicate that even the minority groups support voter ID laws. Therefore, when the likes of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Rep. Marci Fudge (D-Ohio) refer to voter ID laws as the new “poll tax,” they are engaging in race-baiting.

When Joe Biden makes the claim that the GOP is “trying to put y’all back in chains,” he is race-baiting. When President Obama defends the actions of his Justice Department for its lawsuit against Texas, he further divides this country.

These Democrats are ignoring the will of the vast majority of Americans that support voter ID laws.

Finally, we could not help but notice the numerous ways in which one is required to present a valid form of photo ID before being permitted to: take the AP, ACT and SAT tests; purchase a hunting and fishing license; to purchase a firearm; to get married; to buy a house; to purchase a car; to travel by Amtrak; to fill out and submit an I-9 employment eligibility verification form; and to fly.

It is also common to have to present photo ID when: opening a bank account, cashing a check, using a credit card, getting a job, renting an apartment, purchasing tobacco and alcohol and renting a hotel room.

We strongly condemn Obama, Holder, and others of the Obama administration and Congress, along with the Supreme Court minority in Shelby County v. Holder, for their efforts to prevent the will of Texans and the will of the American people from being heard, respected and enacted in terms of voter ID and election laws.

Simultaneously, we applaud the Texas Legislature for passing the voter ID law, for Gov. Rick Perry for signing the bill into law, and Attorney General Greg Abbott for his work in defending Texas’ right to govern itself in terms of elections free from federal meddling.

We also applaud Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. along with the Supreme Court majority in Shelby County v. Holder for their recognition that times have changed and Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is unconstitutional in the 21st century.

To those that oppose voter ID laws, how about instead of trying to incite racial violence and protests, you walk the walk and help those you believe to be poor or disenfranchised without photo ID to acquire a photo ID.

You will benefit them more than just allowing them to vote this November.

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