Thursday, April 9, 2009

Voter Photo ID Legislation Is Not About Fair Elections

Think Progress.Org -- Texas lawmaker: Asians should change their names to make them ‘easier for American [election workers] to deal with.’
On Tuesday, State Rep. Betty Brown (R - House District 4, Athens, TX) let slip a glimpse of Republicans' underlying feelings about 'certain' Texas voters during Tx House debate on voter identification legislation when she said that Asian-Americans should change their names because they’re too hard to pronounce:
Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told [Organization of Chinese Americans representative Ramey] Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”
Yesterday, Brown continued to resist calls to apologize as Brown's spokesman said that Democrats “want this to just be about race.”
Look in your purse or wallet - other than your Driver's License, what current (unexpired) government-issued photo ID do you find? Do you find a U.S. passport? Maybe; a few people have passports. Some seniors may find a Veterans Identification or Armed Forces Identification Photo ID Card, but they do not have 'issued' and 'expires' dates. In Indiana many older veterans, who had stopped driving and let their Driver's License expire, tried to use their Veterans and Armed Forces Id Cards to vote in 2008. Even those veterans who have served our county were turned away because every government photo ID card they possessed were either expired or not dated.
So, if you have an expired Driver's License, or if you are poor and don't own a car, and therefore never bothered to get a Driver's License, you likely do not have a current government-issued photo ID.

And, if you can't drive a car to the state driver's license bureau, where you must submit your original (or notarized copy) birth certificate, you can't get a government-issued photo ID and you will not be allowed to vote in any election under the new Texas Photo Voter Id law.
A Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law study (and many other studies) finds that as many as 11 percent of citizens, mostly the elderly, poor and minority American citizens, do not have a current, government-issued photo ID. Another academic study of the 2004 presidential election conducted for the bipartisan Federal Election Assistance Commission found that states with Voter ID laws had an overall turnout reduction of 3%, a figure that reached 5.7% among African Americans and 10% among Hispanics. Former Texas Republican Party Political Director Royal Masset estimated that a photo ID requirement would reduce Democratic turnout in Texans by 3%. That is a lot Texans who would be denied the right to vote in Texas!

During the Texas House Elections Committee debate in the voter photo ID law on Monday and Tuesday Republican proponents of the law admitted there is no evidence of voter impersonation "fraud" in Texas. "We can't prove there is voter ID fraud. . . We may have a big voter impersonation problem we don't know about. I think we do," said Skipper Wallace, the Republican Party chairman of Lampasas County. [So, the bottom line Republican argument is they just have faith that Democrats are perpetrating voter ID fraud in Texas?]

Republicans are making photo Voter ID the highest priority even as they admit there is no evidence of voter id fraud in Texas and after Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott's $1.4 million two year investigation attempting to locate voter fraud failed to identify anything more than 26 cases where people forgot to sign and address the absentee ballot envelope.

"This is a racial issue, make no mistake about it," said Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who is not on the committee but sat with it and was allowed to comment during the house committee hearing. "This is about skimming enough minority votes so some people can't get elected."

The success of Texas Democratic voter registration drives among minority, elderly and low income groups in 2008 threatens to tip the balance of power away from Republican candidates in future elections. As the tide of Democratic voters continues to grow across Texas, voter ID legislation would be an effective way for Republicans to hold back the tide.

Consequently, the use of baseless "voter id fraud" allegations to promote voter photo ID legislation has become such an urgent 2010 and 2012 election priority for Republicans in the 2009 Texas legislative session that Republicans in the Texas Senate were compelled to change long standing Senate rules to just to bring the photo ID legislation to a vote.

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