Texas implements controversial voter ID law

Texas implements controversial voter ID law

Texas implements controversial voter ID law
September 19
08:04 2013

Mollie Jamison / Staff Writer

A new Texas law requires state-issued photo identification before voting, and opposing political groups argue whether the law was created to prevent voter fraud or to control the vote.

The law went into effect June 25, and will impact early voting for the constitutional amendment election, which begins Oct. 21 in Denton.

Denton County Republican Party Chairman Dianne Edmondson said the law was created to confirm voter identity at the polls.

“Once you are registered to vote it is a very good idea to have to prove that’s who you are when you go vote,” Edmondson said. “Just like how you have to prove who you are when you get on an airplane, when you cash a check and when you get your ears pierced. There is absolutely no reason for anybody to not have a photo ID documenting who they are so our system can be free of voter fraud.”

According to VoteTexas.gov, there are seven acceptable forms of photo ID that can be used to vote:

  • Texas driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • U.S. military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • U.S. passport.

Denton County Democratic Party Chair Phyllis Wolper said that voter fraud is most easily committed using a mail-in ballot, which requires no proof of identification. Wolper said that this new law affects a great number of people.

“In truth, the requirement of the special ID card for people who do not have a driver’s license is actually going to overwhelmingly affect the poor, elderly people, students and young people,” Wolper said. “So really, it is an attempt at controlling the vote.”

Wolper also said that the limited number of Department of Motor Vehicle offices in Texas and their hours of operation make it harder for voters to obtain proper identification.

“It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the state of Texas that do not have any form of ID that will work,” Wolper said. “Our Department of Motor Vehicle offices really are not set up to handle the number of people coming in to get driver’s licenses.”

Wolper said that obtaining an acceptable form of photo identification can be timely and costly, and can also require transportation and documentation. She said that some elderly people, like her mother, have to obtain a birth certificate as proof of identification to get a driver’s license.

“My mother, for example, did not have a birth certificate that she knew of and never needed it all of her life,” Wolper said. “It cost us $22. We had to search online. We had to make several phone calls to find that out and get her driver’s license. There is a cost involved in getting a lot of documents.”

According to DMV.org, a state issued photo ID card costs $16 for those 59 years old and younger and expires after six years. For those over 60 years old, the ID costs $6 and never expires.

Chapter Chair of the North Texas College Republicans Kari Lane said as an organization they do support the voter ID law and believe that it will keep voter integrity at the polls. Lane also said she doesn’t think the new law has a negative impact on students because they have to show their ID to obtain a school ID.

“What’s wrong with having to show an ID to vote?” Lane said. “It doesn’t discriminate because voting is a right of a United States citizen, so if you’re a United States citizen you would have a valid ID of some sort.”

Edmondson also believes the new law has no negative effect on students.

“I have yet to meet a student from any university that doesn’t have a driver’s license,” Edmondson said. “I think the people who are saying that this is trying to discriminate against students are being disingenuous. There are no cons to this at all. It is not going to suppress anyone from voting.”

College Democrats of the University of North Texas President Mia Witt said the laws were put in place to disenfranchise minority and economically disadvantaged voters.

“Photo identification costs money, either directly charging a fee, or indirectly requiring time off of work to obtain,” Witt said. “For millions of people at or below the poverty line in America, this essentially makes them unable to vote. The bogus allegations of voter fraud have no merit – there were more Americans killed by lightning in the past three years than convicted of voter fraud.”

For more information on local elections visit www.VoteDenton.com.

The Denton County Democratic Party registers voters at a protest July 1. – Photo by William Darnell / Arts & Life Editor

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