Friday, May 27, 2011

Voter Photo ID Requirement To Vote in Texas

Click here for current article with current list of links

Update Friday May 27, 2011 @ 11:30am

Governor Rick Perry (R) signed SB14 into law this morning requiring voters to present unexpired government issued photo identification to qualify to vote in Texas elections. Photo IDs must be current or must have expired within the last 60 days. They include:
  • Texas DPS driver’s license or personal identification card,
  • Personal identification card called an “election identification certificate;”
  • US passport;
  • US military ID;
  • Texas concealed weapons license; and
  • US citizenship papers containing a photo.
For those who have none of these unexpired government issued photo IDs the law contains a provision that requires the Texas Driver's License Bureau to issue special "election identification certificates" free of charge to citizens. Of course, a person seeking a free "election identification certificate" at the Driver's License Bureau must present a their birth certificate. The election identification certificates will have an expiration date for people under 70 years of age, suggesting that voters who acquire and use this ID to vote will have to renew the identification certificate just as driver's licenses are renewed. Voters age 70 and older will not have to renew their election identification certificate.

The original version of SB14 passed last January exempted voters age 70 and older from the photo ID requirement, but the House version passed in March stripped the senior photo ID exemption from the bill. The election identification certificate expiration exemption for voters age 70 and older is a compromise reached in joint committee to resolve differences between the Senate and House version of the bill. Voters age 70 and older must present photo identification to election clerks, just like everyone else.

Voters who show up to polls with only their voter registration cards will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, but then they must present a photo ID in person at the office of their county's election authority within six days, or their provisional ballot will not be counted.

NPR: Voter ID Debate.
Voter education efforts will begin in fall 2011, but photo ID requirements will not take effect until January 1, 2012.

Texas Voter Photo ID Summary

Effective Dates (Pending U.S. Dept. of Justice clearance)
Starting September 1, 2011 the Secretary of State, and the voter registrar of each county shall provide notice of the ID requirements for voting in each language in which voter registration materials are available. Required government issued photo identification must be presented to polling place election clerks for all elections occurring after January 1, 2012.

Photo IDs Permitted

All IDs must be unexpired or expired no earlier than 60 days before the election. Acceptable identification includes:
  • A driver’s license, election ID certificate, or personal ID card issued to the person by the Department of Public Safety (i.e., an election certificate issued to a person 70 years or older does not expire);
  • U.S. military ID card that contains the person's photograph;
  • U.S. citizenship certificate issued to the voter with their photograph;
  • U.S. passport; or
  • A license to carry a concealed handgun.
*Student IDs are not accepted in Texas for purposes of identification for voting.

Exceptions Available

A person may obtain an exemption from the ID requirement on the basis of disability if they produce a statement in a form determined by the SOS that the applicant does not have any of the prescribed forms of identification, and they have an:
  • U.S.S.S.A. determination of disability, or
  • U.S.V.A. disability rating of 50%.
Affidavit Alternative

A voter without a photo ID may cast a provisional ballot, which will count if she signs an affidavit attesting to the fact that she:
  • has a religious objection to being photographed, or
  • does not have an ID as a result of a natural disaster declared by the U.S. President or Texas’ Governor no earlier than 45 days before the election and that disaster caused the inability to access the voter’s ID.
The affidavit may be signed at the time the provisional ballot is cast or at the time the voter appears before the voter registrar within 6 days following the election to have the provisional ballot counted.

Early/Absentee Voting ID Requirements

The photo ID requirement does not apply to absentee voting, including early voting by mail. Photo ID requirements apply to all in-person or curbside early voting.

Free IDs

Texas will issue an Election Identification Certificate (EIC) to persons who do not have another qualifying ID for purposes of voting. The applicant must present a voter registration card or register to vote at the time of applying for an EIC. There is no fee for an initial or duplicate EIC.

Public Education Requirements

The Secretary of State, and the voter registrar of each county that maintains a website, shall provide notice of the ID requirements for voting in each language in which voter registration materials are available. The Secretary of State shall prescribe the wording of the notice to be included on the websites, and shall also conduct a statewide effort to educate voters regarding the identification requirements for voting. The county clerk of each county shall post in a prominent location at the clerk’s office a physical copy of ID information in each language in which voter registration materials are available.

For additional information to "Conventional Wisdom v. The Facts On Voter Photo ID Law" and click "Read more »"
Update Wednesday March 23, 2011 @ 11:59pm
After more than 11 hours of debate, many points of order and many failed attempts to amend the voter ID bill the House passed the bill 101 to 48 on a party line vote at 11:07pm Wednesday night. The House and Senate will now need to work out the differences between the versions passed by the two chambers.
Earlier in the day State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, successfully amended the bill to remove an exemption from the ID requirement for voters age 70 years and older. Bonnen said it wasn’t necessary to single out the elderly as a “special class” of voters. Otherwise the bill is as described below.

Update Tuesday March 22, 2011 @ 12:51pm

Part 1

Part 2

Justin Levitt, Counsel Brennan Center
for Justice at NYU School of Law,
before TX House of Representatives
Elections Committee:
"Voter ID Requirements."
As the Republican controlled State Legislature and Gov. Perry prepare to cut up to $23 billion from the state budget, a bill that will increase the costs of conducting elections in Texas passed from the Texas House Elections Committee to the floor of the Texas House for debate on Monday.

That bill requires voters to present photo identification for in person voting at polling places in Texas.

A point of order was raised on the Texas House floor on Monday over the House bill's current language because it is unclear whether the bill calls for six calendar days or six business days for a voter to appear at the county elections office to present photo ID after casting a provisional ballot at an in person polling place.

House Speaker Joe Straus sustained the point of order request, and now the bill will be sent back to its committee so authors can rework the language.

It is unclear when the legislation might return to the House Floor, but there is little doubt it will return this session. The Texas Senate passed its version of the photo identification bill in late January.
The idea behind the Texas Voter ID bill is that to combat "in person" voting voter impersonation fraud voters must present Government Issued Photo Identification to election clerks. Substantial investigations by law enforcement and researchers over several years have found no "in person" voting impersonation fraud.

The Texas Senate and House bills on photo identification for in person voting at polling places in Texas as currently written provide that:
Citizens age 69 and under on election day must present an unexpired driver's license, personal ID card, military ID, passport or concealed handgun permit to Election Judges upon entering a polling place in order to cast a ballot in Texas. They are the only forms of government issued photo identification that Election Judges may accept. Citizens age 70 and older are not required to present a photo ID.
Any voter who does not have a photo ID, or who election clerks consider does not look like his or her ID photo will not be allowed to vote a regular ballot. Those voters will only be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Those voters who do vote a provisional ballot must then present their Government Issued Photo Identification to the County Election office by the sixth day after the election or their provisional ballot will not be counted.
The Texas voter photo ID bills as currently written will mandate the most stringent requirements for photo ID of any voter photo ID bill so far enacted by any other state. The Texas legislation does not including university student photo ids as valid identification for voting and the Texas bill allows only six days to present a photo id after voting a provisional ballot. However, a Texas concealed handgun license is allowed as a valid voter photo id and senior citizens age 70 or over on election day will be exempt from showing a photo id. In Texas, University students vote more for Democratic than Republican candidates, whereas, senior citizens and gun license holders vote more for Republican than Democratic candidates.

Opponents of the photo id law point to studies that show significant percentages of legally-registered Texas voters do not have a photo ID. Those same studies show that these voters will be disproportionately minority, poor disabled or elderly, who also vote more for Democratic than Republican candidates. Reliable evidence proves that photo ID and proof of citizenship bills erect hurdles that prevent real citizens from voting. Opponents of the photo id law point say that after six years of debate on this issue, supporters of this radical change have yet to find a single example of voter impersonation that would be combated by this new restriction, yet opponents could point to significant numbers of legal voters who predominately support Democratic candidates will be negatively impacted by this law.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law concluded in The Cost of Voter ID Laws: What the Courts Say, that legislators pursuing photo ID requirements for voting must ensure that the laws provide for free photo IDs, ensure that IDs are reasonably accessible to all eligible voters, and include sufficient voter education and outreach programs and poll worker training. Fulfilling these constitutional requirements requires that the State of Texas must add a significant amount of money to the 2011-13 budget to fully meet the requirements of the court. Money that the State of Texas simply does not have.

While Republican legislators are fixated on a voter impersonation problem that no one can provide factual evidence does exist, other legislation to empower voters is ignored. The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston State Senator Rodney Ellis filed six bills which make up the "Voter Empowerment Package" (Senate Bills 210 to 216). The package includes measures to 1) designate every statewide Election Day as a state holiday, including primary Election Day; 2) allows eligible residents to register for voting during the early voting period at polling locations as long as the eligible resident provides certain documentation; 3) creates criminal penalties for certain deceptive or disenfranchising practices regarding an election; 4) allows eligible residents to register for voting on Election Day at polling locations as long as the eligible resident provides certain documentation; and 5) authorizes registered voters to vote by mail during the early voting period.

Update Wednesday Jan. 26, 2011 @ 11:58pm
As expected, the Texas Senate approved the controversial voter ID bill late Wednesday by a party line vote of 19 to 11. Democrats proposed about three-dozen changes to the bill that would have made it easier or cheaper to obtain identification or that would have allowed non-photo identification for use in voting, but most failed. The one change that did pass will allow Texans to present a concealed-handgun license photo ID to vote. Next, the measure will move to the Republican-dominated House, where it is also expected to pass easily later in this session.

Update Tuesday Jan. 25, 2011 @ 11:45pm

Keying off Gov. Rick Perry's declaration of the issue as a legislative emergency, the Senate put voter identification legislation on a fast track Monday and turned itself into a committee of the whole Monday so it could consider and vote on the bill (SB14) as soon as public comment and debate ends. An initial vote on the measure — now being cited by supporters and opponents as the toughest voter ID law in the country — followed party lines late Tuesday: 20 Republicans in favor, 12 Democrats against. SB14 is considered to be tougher than voter photo ID laws on the books in eight other states, including Georgia and Indiana. A second and final approval vote is expected late Wednesday after a 24-hour delay required by Senate rules. Twenty-six amendments have been filed and will be considered after the second vote on the bill.

Over on the House side of the capital building Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, chairman of the Texas Conservative Coalition, offered an amendment to House rules on Tuesday that would allow the House to also consider the voter photo ID bill directly on the floor as a committee of the whole without taking public testimony.
Rep. Burt Solomon, R-Carrollton, who drafted the House rules resolution, told his colleagues that the House has met as a "committee of the whole" only to deal with impeachment proceedings in the 1970s and 1920s, and even those matters first passed through standing House committees. Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, then questioned the lack of public testimony if the House takes up voter identification without public hearings.

Christian's proposal to amend House rules to immediately send voter photo ID legislation to the House floor was voted down 130-13. Eighty-eight Republicans and 42 Democrats voted against Christian, while all those voting with him were Republicans.

However, there is little doubt that House Republicans will continue to push the bill through the regular legislative process before the end of this session.
Original Post Sunday Jan. 23, 2011 @ 8:50am
Last Thursday, Texas Governor Rick Perry added Voter Government Issued Photo Identification legislation to his list of controversial items he has declared as emergencies for the 82nd Texas Legislature to consider.
The idea behind this legislation is that to combat in person voting voter impersonation fraud voters must present Government Issued Photo Identification to election clerks.

Any voter who does not have a photo ID, or who election clerks consider does not look like his or her ID photo will not be allowed to vote a regular ballot. Those voters will only be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Those voters who do vote a provisional ballot must then present their Government Issued Photo Identification to the County Election office by the sixth day after the election or their provisional ballot will not be counted.
By Gov. Perry declaring voter photo identification an emergency the Senate is allowed to take up the legislative measure for immediate consideration. Usually, a bill will go before a committee, which then takes testimony on the issue, followed by debate and then a committee vote before it advances to the full Senate. An emergency measure can go straight to floor debate in the Senate. The voter photo ID measure is schedule to go to the Senate floor for debate and an up or down vote on Monday January 24th.

During Texas House Elections Committee debate on the voter photo ID requirement issue in the 2009 legislative session Republican proponents of the ID 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.

The senate bill as written, as of last Thursday, would require voters in elections after next January to present a driver’s license, valid military identification or a citizenship certificate with a photo. Voters who do not have such identification would only be allowed to cast provisional ballots and they must then present identification to the county elections office by the sixth day after the election.

Passage of a government issued photo voter ID requirement is the GOP's legislative priority for the 2011 Texas Legislative session, according to state Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, the chairman of the House Elections Committee, which met last June to hear invited testimony on what, if any, evidence has been found that would warrant Texas to require voters to present a photo ID before casting a ballot.
There have been 267 requests referred to the Texas Attorney General’s office to investigate voter fraud in Texas since 2002, according Jay Dyer, special assistant to Attorney General Greg Abbott, in testimony before the committee last June. Of those 267 referrals, only 35 have were deemed to have merit to proceed to prosecution.
The Texas Attorney General’s office has not able to identify a case of in person voting ID impersonation fraud. Six years ago Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott tapped a $1.4 million federal crime-fighting grant to establish a special voter fraud investigation unit in his office as he pledged to root out what he called an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas. Mr. Abbott found and prosecuted only 26 cases of election fraud – all against Democrats, and almost all involving vote by mail (VBM) ballots, a review by The Dallas Morning News showed.

David Simcox, the former executive director of a conservative Washington-based think tank, Center for Immigration Studies, that favors less immigration, has said an estimated 1.8 million to 2.7 million non-citizen immigrants in the U.S. may be illegally registered to vote, thereby potentially influencing the outcome of the upcoming presidential and congressional elections.
Using population estimates from the Census Bureau and Texas county registration data, Mr. Simcox calculated in 2008 that Dallas, Harris, Starr and Presidio counties, as well as others, had higher numbers of registered voters than those who are eligible, which may indicate approximately 333,000 non-citizens are registered to vote and they likely vote for Democratic candidates.

Such claims are the reason Republicans have made Voter Photo Id for in person voting such a high legislative priority.
Elections administrators across Texas have said that there's no proof that county officials are registering a significant number of non-citizens to vote.
"I don't think we are, and I have no evidence that we have people over registered to vote," said Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet when interviewed for a 2008 Dallas Morning News story. Steve Raborn, elections administrator for Tarrant County, said in the same 2008 Dallas Morning News story that a two-year investigation by his office of questionable voter registrations in 2004 and 2005 found only three non-citizens on the county voter rolls, and they were later removed.
Voter impersonation fraud is difficult to carry out in Texas or any state because statewide centralized voter-registration certification and databases were mandated in the 2002 Help America Vote Act. The federal HAVA law requires all election districts in a state or U.S. territory to consolidate their lists into a single database electronically accessible to every election office in the state or territory.

In Texas, each voter registration applicant must enter a driver's license number or Social Security number on his or her registration application before submitting it to the county Election Registrar's office. Every voter registration application is sent to the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) office, which verifies citizenship and true identity of the applicant by validating the driver's license number or Social Security number entered on the application.
If the applicant's citizenship status and true identity can not be validated by the SOS, then the application is rejected. If citizenship status and identity can be validated, then the applicant's name and unique identifier is entered into a statewide TEAM electronic voter registration database maintained by the SOS.
Applicants are sent a voter registration card and officially added to his or her county of residence voter rolls only if the SOS's office approves the application. When a registered voter dies or moves the voter's registration status is automatically canceled or marked suspended in the county and SOS centralized databases.

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. When the voter photo ID law was enacted 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. Those veterans who served our county were turned away because every government photo ID card they possessed were either expired or not dated.
If you 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 a state bureau where you must submit your original birth certificate to prove citizenship, 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.
Look at your Driver's License photo - does it really look like you? If your hair color has changed, you gained or lost weight, you grew or shaved off a mustache or otherwise changed your appearance since your Driver's License photo was snapped, an election clerk might force you to vote a provisional ballot. And, if you find yourself being forced to cast a provisional ballot, you must make a special trip to the county elections office to offer additional proof of your identity, before your provisional ballot will be counted.
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. (also read: Brennan Center for Justice - Voter ID a Misguided Effort) 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.

"This is a racial issue, make no mistake about it," said Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, in 2009. "This is about skimming enough minority votes so some people can't get elected." An estimated 25% of legal, registered voters in Texas are Hispanic and over the next 30 years 78% of Texas' population growth is projected to be Hispanic.
The recently completed 2010 Census documented Texas' population grew 20.6% over the last ten years, double the national growth rate, courtesy of the burgeoning Texas Hispanic and black populations. That 20% gain in population earned Texas four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The success of Texas Democratic voter registration drives among minority groups in 2008 threatens to tip the balance of power away from Republicans. As the tide of Democratic voters continues to grow across Texas, a government issue photo voter ID requirement for in-person voting 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 is a more urgent 2011 legislative session priority for Republicans, than focusing the on the long list of real problems plaguing Texas families.

No comments:

Post a Comment