Texas Voter ID Law Upheld on Appeal
Texas Voter ID Law Upheld on Appeal
A panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, in a split decision, stayed the district court’s granting a permanent injunction against enforcement of certain sections of the Texas Voter ID law. Those protesting the law, claimed it was unconstitutional because it would prevent, or at least deter, voters without a “valid form of ID” from voting. The Fifth Circuit, in a surprising turn, not only applied the law to the issue before it but they also applied common sense.
In its opinion, the court stated, “The State has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits. SB 5 allows voters without qualifying photo ID to cast regular ballots by executing a declaration that they face a reasonable impediment to obtaining qualifying photo ID.” If you check the Texas Secretary of State’s website, you can see there are a number of ways a voter can identify himself and still be in compliance with the law. Among the accepted forms of identification are a valid driver’s license, an election identification certificate, a state ID card, a concealed carry permit and a U. S. passport. If a voter doesn’t have one of those, he can still vote if he presents a voter registration card, a utility bill, a certified birth certificate, among others. If one of these supporting forms of is then accompanied by a “Reasonable Impediment Declaration.” But there are even exceptions to that, including an exception for those who have a religious objection to having their picture taken.
The court also noted the State had spent $2.5 million to educate the public about the various ways they could prove their identities in order to vote. As a Texan, I can vouch for that. There have been a number of publications describing the various options. News reports have aired. Information is available through county voting offices and at all polling places.
What always amazed me about the objections to the law was the way its opponents claimed those they were trying to protect would be unable to prove who their identities and would, therefore, be turned back at the polls. That was never the case. But it goes beyond that. How many of those so-called marginalized voters don’t have to prove their identities to claim their government benefits? How many of them don’t have to show some form of ID in order to get medical treatment or to cash a check?
This is where those opposing the law ring hollow. You have to show ID to board a plane. You have to show ID once a year when you visit your doctor or dentist. You have to show ID if you cash a check. Understanding the need to show voter ID shouldn’t be that difficult.
Nor were their arguments about the cost of obtaining an ID valid. A state issued ID card costs $16 if the applicant is 59 or younger and is valid for six years. If the applicant is 60 or older, the cost is $6. The former is less than the price of a couple of packs of cigarettes. The latter, less than a single pack. How is that onerous, especially when it is only one of a number of alternate ways to prove your ID?
Unfortunately, the court’s decision is a stay only. It will allow Texas to proceed with the November elections, following the current law. But the fight isn’t over. At a time when Dallas County, among others, has suffered a rash of voter fraud complaints where mail-in ballots are concerned, I would think the State is well within its rights to do whatever it can to cut down on fraud while still making it relatively easy for anyone who wants to vote to do so.