La Feria News

Election Approaches as Court Weighs TX Voter ID Law


by John Michaelson

AUSTIN, Texas – Voters across Texas will go to the polls in just six weeks, and it appears they’ll need to bring a current photo ID to be allowed to vote. The requirement was passed into law and is moving to implementation, but only after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act.

According to Jose Garza, litigation director for Texas Rio Grande Legal, the requirement should not discourage people from voting, but they do need to know what’s accepted and what is not in the way of identification.

“For instance, a federal employee identification badge is not sufficient,” he pointed out. “A student identification is not sufficient. A passport is, and so is a license to carry a concealed handgun.”

The U.S. Justice Department is among the organizations asking the court to overturn the voter ID requirement, saying it has a disproportionate effect on minorities.

Garza explained that those most likely to be affected include older residents who don’t have identification bearing their current address, along with lower-income Texans, despite the state offering free voter IDs.

“You have to go to a DPS station, and there are a number of counties along the border and elsewhere in Texas that do not have a Department of Public Safety office that you can use to get this done,” he said. “So, there are logistical problems.”

Supporters of the voter ID requirement say it will cut down on election fraud, although Garza noted that such cases in Texas rarely, if ever, involve identity fraud.

To vote in the November election, Texans who are not already registered must do so by October 7. Today is National Voter Registration Day and groups that are part of the “Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network” are holding events across the state to get people signed up.

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