It’s an attempt to curb minority voting. In the 10 years before passing the law, Texas’s population increased by about 4 million people 90% of which were Hispanic. Studies have shown that minorities are statistically more likely to have a low income and live a long way from government locations, making it much more difficult to get or renew an ID. Of course anyone is still allowed to get one as long as he or she has the necessary paperwork. But even without any added barriers, we all know how irritating and difficult it can be to get through all that red tape. People don’t want to have to struggle with government bureaucracy just to be allowed to vote. And quite frankly they shouldn’t have to.
Yes, stricter voting laws will be problematic and irritating in Texas. But if the law is approved it will be damaging and potentially dangerous for the rest of the country. The Texas legislature clearly had ulterior motives beyond curbing voter fraud with the new law. They may argue otherwise now and the Justice Department may not be able to prove it. But it’s pretty clear to me and most people familiar with the case that voter fraud is not an issue in Texas. So what kind of message will that send to the rest of the country if the law is passed? Will it mean that it’s okay to place more restrictive laws on minorities? That some people have a greater right to vote? That we’re returning to the era of the poll tax?
Maybe my interpretations of the potential ramifications of this law are too extreme. In fact, I hope they are. But this law has the potential to set an important precedent for voting and minority rights. If it, and other laws like it, are approved now, then that lays the groundwork for even more questionable laws later. We can’t allow that to happen. There’s not really anything we can do now to affect the approval or not (fingers crossed) of the Texas voter ID law. But we can do our best to keep the government from creating similar laws. Protest, write letters to your congressperson, educate your community about the issues. But most importantly, remember to vote in November. Exercise that right that so many people fight for and ensure we have a government we can trust.