Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – During this spring’s Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature passed the Voter ID Bill (Senate Bill 14), which I proudly co-sponsored with many of my colleagues. However, as of November 16, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice is still unwilling to grant Texas clearance to implement the Voter ID Bill, as the department is still searching for voter registration data for Texas voters.
This has, naturally, stalled the implementation of the Voter ID law in Texas.
The Voter ID law passed the Texas House overwhelmingly with bi-partisan support of 68% in favor, As a result, voters will be required to show a form of photo identification when voting in the 2012 election.
The Texas Voter ID law will require voters to provide one of the following forms of a photo identification in order to vote:
- A driver’s license
- A personal identification card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- A U.S. military identification card with a photograph
- A citizenship certificate with a photograph
- A U.S. passport, or
- A concealed handgun license issued by DPS.
A photo identification card is currently required by the government for many other legal activities including:
- Boarding an airplane
- Receiving a passport
- Purchasing alcohol or tobacco
- Obtaining a marriage license
- Receiving a medical license
- Checking out a library book, and
- Purchasing certain over-the-counter drugs including ephedrine
In addition, many retailers require showing photo identification when making a credit card purchase so the cashier can make the determination that the credit card has not been stolen.
In June 2011, a Rasmussen Poll showed that 75% of likely United States voters believe that voters should be required to show photo identification before being allowed to vote, which demonstrates the substantial support from citizens who are in favor of strong Voter ID laws such, as Senate Bill 14.
However, Texas is subject to the federal Voting Rights Act which requires the U.S. Department of Justice to pre-clear changes to state election law. The U.S. Attorney General has 60 days to consider a completed pre-clearance submission to the Voting Rights Act, which was submitted by the Texas Secretary of State’s office on July 25, 2011.
The U.S. Department of Justice has not objected to similar Voter ID laws in Arizona, Louisiana, Florida, and South Dakota which have jurisdictions that must also face Department of Justice pre-clearance.
The state of Indiana’s Voter ID law was upheld by U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit on January 4, 2007. The United States Supreme Court removed an injunction against the Arizona Voter Identification law in 2006 stating “voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust in our government.”
The law — and prior pre-clearance actions by the U.S. Department of Justice — indicate that Texas has sovereignty to adopt election law provisions that promote integrity of the electoral process and eliminate fraudulent voting.
Unfortunately, the recent trend in Washington has been to:
- Limit a state’s ability to govern itself & Balance their own Budgets
- Impose additional Federal Regulations detrimental to Job Creation & Economic Growth
- Ignore Border Security
- Ignore changes to Immigration Laws that will encourage Legal Immigration while stopping organized crime, and now
- Delaying the Implementation of Texas’ Voter ID law, which will promote Election Integrity
Washington’s recent message is clearly designed to promote the federal government’s micromanaging of policies to fit their current political desires, instead of allowing Texans to govern Texas in a way that we can be responsive to the needs of our citizens.
Representative Ken Paxton was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2002 and is currently in his 4th term representing District 70. Paxton received his BA & MBA from Baylor University, and also earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. He and his wife Angela live in McKinney, TX and have 4 children.