September 3, 2013
By Hans A. von Spakovsky
The Justice Department has no basis for suing Texas under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) over its voter ID law. And it presents no evidence to support its claim under Section 3 that Texas should be placed under federal supervision for any additional changes in its voting laws for the foreseeable future.
Requiring voters to prove that they are who they say they are when they show up to vote is overwhelmingly supported by the American people no matter what their racial, ethnic or political background. Moreover, it has been upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion written by former Justice John Paul Stevens, a liberal stalwart.
States such as Georgia and Indiana have had voter ID laws similar to the Texas law in place for years. The turnout of black and Hispanic voters in their local, state and federal elections was not affected by the ID requirement, disproving the claims of critics that ID requirements suppress anyone's vote.
That's not surprising. The vast majority of Americans have photo ID. Only a small percentage of registered Texans don't already have a state-issued driver's license or state ID. And the Texas law stipulates that — as is the case in every other state with a voter ID requirement — the state will provide a free photo ID to anyone who doesn't already have on.
People in this country need a photo ID for everyday activities — from filling a prescription to cashing checks. You need to present ID to buy a beer or cigarettes; check into a hospital or hotel; apply for public assistance; get a marriage license; buy a gun; hop an airplane … even just to enter the building that houses the U.S. Department of Justice.
Is it really too much to ask for ID when it comes to exercising something as important as the right to vote? Don't we deserve to have fair and secure elections that are not stolen by fraudulent votes? Voter ID is not the only step needed to improve the integrity of our election process, but it is a basic step that is neither discriminatory nor unconstitutional. It is just common sense.
- Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Originally appeared in U.S. News.
Hans A. von Spakovsky
Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow
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