Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Protecting our Vote

The Texas Senate on Monday is expected to pass SB 362 requiring a person to present one form of valid photo ID or two forms of approved non-photo ID in addition to their voter registration card when they report to a polling place to vote.

For some reason, this issue has become polarized along party lines. Why would anyone be against something as simple as presenting identification to show that you actually are the person you claim to be on your voter registration card?

I wonder what would happen if I took my sister’s voter ID card to her polling place. Would I be allowed to vote in her place, in her precinct? What could possibly stop me? What about my grandmother’s card? Seriously, how would they know? This is voter fraud and right now it’s pretty darn easy in the state of Texas.

SB 362 states quite simply that the voter must present to an election officer at the polling place the voter’s voter registration certificate and either one form of (photo) identification from an approved list OR two different forms of (non-photo) identification from an approved list.

Democrats are saying that the bill would disenfranchise the elderly, disabled, blacks, and Hispanics. I really don’t see how they can make this claim. Let’s look at the approved photo id list to see what documents they require.

The approved photo id list includes:
  • A driver’s license or personal identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety that has not expired or that expired no earlier than two years before the date of presentation.

  • U.S. military identification card with photograph

  • A U.S. citizenship certificate issued with a photograph

  • A Texas DPS issued Concealed Handgun License

  • Any valid identification card that contains the person’s photograph and is issued by a federal or state agency.

I just checked and I have two of these ID in my purse right now. My husband has three approved photo IDs in his wallet. How does any person conduct any personal business today without one of these IDs? I cannot visit my daughter at her school without showing a drivers license to the school office. Actually, I had to provide my drivers license (and social security card) in order to enroll her in public school.

But for the sake of the argument, let’s say that you have managed to live in this state without a single form of approved photo ID. This bill would allow you to present two different forms of non-photo ID.

The approved non-photo id list includes:

  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.

  • Official mail addressed to the person by name from a governmental entity

  • Certified copy of a birth certificate or other document confirming birth admissible in a court of law

  • U.S. citizenship papers

  • Original or certified copy of the person’s marriage license or divorce decree
    Court records of the person’s adoption, name change, or sex change

  • An ID card issued to the person by state or U.S. government for the purpose of obtaining public benefits, including veteran’s benefits, Medicaid, or Medicare

  • Temporary driving permit issued by DPS

  • Pilot’s license issued by FAA or other authorized agency of the U.S.

  • A public library card that contains the person’s name

  • A hunting or fishing license issued by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

While I only have a public library card in my purse at this exact moment, I could fairly easily put my hands on a utility bill, birth certificate, and marriage license in under ten minutes. I could also drive to Walmart and buy a fishing license. I would think the elderly, disabled, or poor would have access to at least two of the documents on this list.

Okay, if you don’t have a photo ID or two forms of acceptable non-photo ID, what can you do? You could easily buy a personal ID card from the state for a minimal amount of $15 (if you’re under 60 years old) or $5 (if you’re over 60 years old). However, this bill also states that if you are a registered voter or you are eligible to register to vote and submit an application, then the department may not collect a fee for issuing a personal identification certificate to be used for voting purposes.

Voting is an important right for all U.S. citizens. How can protecting that voice, that vote, from fraud be a party issue?

If you live in Texas and you agree with me, please contact your state senator and state legislator and let them know you support the Voter ID bill, SB362.

Don’t know who represents you in the government? Check this link.

Oh, and one last little question. If requiring a photo ID or two forms of alternative ID when you check in with your voter registration card is "voter suppression" and would disenfranchise all these minorites, please tell me how did they get their voter registration card in the first place?

All voters who registered to vote in Texas must provide a Texas driver's license number or personal identification number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. If you do not have such a number, then you must state that fact and provide the last four digits of your social security number. If you do not have a social security number, you must also state that fact.

What if I don't have a driver's license, personal identification number, OR a social security number? Can I still register to vote in Texas?

Even if you have not been issued any of three identification numbers requested on the application, you are still eligible to register to vote, but you will be required to provide proof of your identity. You may enclose a copy of identification with your voter registration application, or you may present identification when you vote.

Acceptable identification includes:
-a driver's license or personal identification card issued to the person by the Department of Public Safety or a similar document issued to the person by an agency of another state, regardless of whether the license or card has expired;
-a form of identification containing the person's photograph that establishes the person's identity;
-a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person's identity;
-United States citizenship papers issued to the person;
-a United States passport issued to the person;
-official mail addressed to the person by name from a governmental entity;
-a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter; or any other form of identification prescribed by the Secretary of State.

1 comment:

  1. Because of you two meddling women, I've become a post-card sending freak! I just filled out another round to go to my state representative and state senator.

    Seriously, though, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    The perfectionist/anal retentive person in me has to ask: where does the passport come in? That is usually the numero uno preferred photo ID, isn't it? Just asking.

    What issue do I send postcards to next, oh your worshipfulnesses?

    hee hee hee hee


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