Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Photo ID for DOJ, But Not for Texas

Now, why is the United States Department of Justice trying to stop Texas (and South Carolina) from requiring citizens to show a photo ID in order to be allowed to vote? Well, it seems those pesky photo ID's hinder The Chicago Way: stealing elections. - Reggie

To no one’s surprise, the Obama Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division have objected to the voter ID law passed by the Texas legislature. The DOJ under Attorney General Eric Holder claims that it is discriminatory under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for Texas to require voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polling place, because it will supposedly hurt Hispanic voters—even though any Texan can get a photo ID for free.

Never mind that if you want to exercise your First Amendment right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances” by talking to anyone at the Justice Department, you have to present a government-issued photo ID if you want to get into their headquarters in Washington. How discriminatory!

The March 12 objection letter from Thomas Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights—a former staffer for Senator Ted Kennedy (D–MA) and president of Casa de Maryland, an illegal immigrant rights group—is a study in statistical manipulation and deceit. Perez makes no mention, for example, of DOJ’s approval of Georgia’s voter ID law, nor does he explain how the Texas law is so different from Georgia’s law that an objection is justified.

DOJ precleared Georgia’s law in 2005 because it was not discriminatory. That judgment has proven to be correct, since the turnout of minority voters in Georgia has gone up dramatically since the implementation of the law. And a lawsuit filed under the Voting Rights Act by the ACLU and the NAACP was also thrown out because a federal judge found that the law was not discriminatory. According to official figures from the Georgia Secretary of State, in the 2008 election, Hispanic voter turnout increased 140 percent over 2004 (when there was no photo ID law in place), while the turnout of black voters went up 42 percent. In the 2010 midterm election, the turnout of Hispanic voters went up 66.5 percent over 2006, while the turnout of black voters increased 44.7 percent. By contrast, the turnout of white voters only increased 8 percent in 2008 and 11.7 percent in 2010.

Perez notes that Texas did not submit any evidence of impersonation fraud to justify the ID law. But there is no such requirement under Section 5. In fact, when it upheld Indiana’s photo ID law as constitutional, the Supreme Court already determined that states have a legitimate and rational interest in protecting the security of elections as well as upholding public confidence in the election process. Furthermore, Perez’s statement ignores the fact that ID requirements can also prevent voting under fictitious voter registrations, voting under the names of dead voters, or voting by noncitizens, individuals registered in other states, or those in the country illegally.

The Justice Department also plays a statistical trick with the data, just as it did when it objected to South Carolina’s voter ID law, in order to make insignificant discrepancies look very large. Keep in mind that the Census shows that the Hispanic population in Texas is 37.6 percent, although only 21.8 percent of the registered voters in Texas are Hispanic. This is no doubt due in part to the very low citizenship rate of Hispanics in the state, i.e., the Hispanic population in Texas includes a substantial number of legal and illegal immigrants.

Texas submitted at least one set of data in September 2011 comparing its registered voter list of 12.7 million people to its driver’s license list maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety. According to DOJ, 6.3 percent of registered Hispanics don’t have a driver’s license, versus 4.3 percent of non-Hispanics. This is only a 2 percentage point difference, yet DOJ extrapolates that to mean that a “Hispanic voter is 46.5 percent more likely than a non-Hispanic voter to lack” an ID.

The very same Texas data shows that almost three times as many non-Hispanic registered voters are without an ID, so the new ID requirement will have a greater effect on whites and other non-Hispanics. DOJ ignores this fact. And we don’t know how many of these individuals who supposedly don’t have a driver’s license have one of the other forms of ID acceptable under Texas law, such as a passport, a gun permit, a military ID, or a citizenship certification.

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