Thursday, October 23, 2008

Voter Identification in Texas: Know Your Rights

In 2007 State Rep. Phil King (R - Weatherford) introduced House Bill 626. This bill would have required voters to come to their polling locations not only with their voter registration certificate, but some form of identification that has your photograph on it.

That and another similar bill, HB 218, were voted down.

Texas, unlike Indiana, has no law on the books requiring voters provide a photo ID in order to vote.

But wouldn’t you know, there is a story going around that someone at the Texas Secretary of State help desk is saying that voters must provide a photo ID. They can have a registration certificate, but they need to see that photo ID before they’ll let you vote.

Now this didn’t happen to me when I early voted on Monday. But you can bet that if this lie gets spread often enough and long enough, someone is not going to be allowed to vote this year.

So if you haven’t voted yet, know your rights before you go to the polls. This information on what is required for a voter to identify him/herself was taken right off the Texas SecState’s website:

Voter registration certificate

  • Once you apply, a voter registration certificate (proof of registration) will be mailed to you within 30 days.
  • Check your certificate to be sure all information is correct. (If there is a mistake, make corrections and return it to the voter registrar immediately.)
  • When you go to the polls to vote, present your certificate as proof of registration.
    You may vote without your certificate by signing an affidavit at the polling place and showing some other form of identification (for example, driver's license, birth certificate, copy of electric bill).
  • If you lose your certificate, notify your county Voter Registrar in writing to receive a new one.
  • You will automatically receive a new certificate every two years, if you haven't moved from the address at which you are registered.

Now that fourth bullet is a little odd. I have been in voting lines year after year and I have never seen a poll worker make a voter sign an affidavit when they present their driver’s license instead of a voter registration certificate. I have actually heard one poll worker make snide comments about driver’s licenses, that they are “real forms of identification,” implying that voter registration certificates are not.

So if anything, we have poll workers in Fort Bend County that operate in contravention of the law. What a big surprise.

This idea that a photo ID will prevent voting fraud is complete nonsense. The only reason Republicans came up with it is because they are the most probable practitioners of the process. Take Republican congressional candidate Pete Olson, for example. Here’s a guy who maintained voter registration in two states, and voted in two states during the same year. A level 6 felony in Virginia.

So, do you want to see good examples of voter fraud? Go to a poll and watch a Republican poll worker to get some ideas.

Or tap into the voting records of Republicans in multiple states. Republicans love to vote, and love to vote more often than you do.

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