I had the priviledge of speaking to a group this morning about the dangers of Texas - and other state's - Voter ID laws. As I mentioned, in my January Dallas Morning News column, this is a law in search of a crime.
It's incredibly important to know that this is an assault on the voting rights of millions of Americans and an implicit indication that law makers believe the wrong people voted in 2008! San Antonio Congressman Charles Gonzales hits the nail on the head in pointing out the how the very nature of these laws is antithetical to the Constitutional guarantees of the rights of citizens...
"[There have been] a lot of letters supporting Texas' new voter ID bill. Most say something like, “Everyone has a photo ID and we show it all the time, so why is tying it to voting such a problem?” I'd like to answer that question."
"First, it is true that almost everyone has some form of photo identification. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 89 percent of American citizens have photo ID. But that means that 11 percent of us, about 23 million eligible voters, don't. Millions of our fellow citizens might be disenfranchised."
"“But,” say the bill's proponents, “we'll give them a free ID.” Not really. We may stand in line for two hours for the privilege of driving, but this law asks millions to stand in line for what the 14th Amendment calls “the right to vote.” The ID may be free, but you need a birth certificate, something many Texans don't have. The Texas Vital Statistics Office charges $22 plus postage for a birth certificate. It's hard to square that with the 24th Amendment's ban on charging anyone to vote."
"Many ID-less Texans live 100 miles from a DPS station, and it's hard to get there when you don't have a car. It's harder for many senior citizens and people working two jobs. Yet the elderly, the poor and the disabled are most likely to be affected by the new law. Why make things harder for the people who already have it the hardest?"
"Supporters point out that they have to show a photo ID to buy alcohol, drive a car or board a plane. That may be true, but the Constitution doesn't guarantee your right to do those things. But five of the 27 amendments guarantee our “right to vote.” Texas' voter ID law could disenfranchise citizens who have voted for decades."
Read the rest of Rep. Gonzales' op-ed here...