Voter ID, immigration reform top town hall topics

voter-idTexas’ disputed voter identification law took center stage at Congressman Marc Veasey’s town hall meeting in Oak Cliff Tuesday.

If the Texas voter identification law takes effect, then anyone presenting a voter registration card, student ID, veterans ID card of expired drivers license could be turned away at the polls in November, even if they legally have the right to vote. In Texas and across the nation, whether to require a government-issued photo ID at polling places is an issue split down party lines.

Dallas County Commissioners voted Tuesday to join Veasey in a lawsuit against the state in an attempt to block Republican efforts to enforce the law (Oak Cliff-based commissioner Elba Garcia, a Democrat, voted against joining the suit). U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a few weeks ago that Texas is ground zero for the Obama administration’s fight against voter ID laws.

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“The state’s own data says that blacks and Latinos would definitely be discriminated against if the voter ID law is to take effect,” Veasey told neighbors Tuesday at Methodist hospital.

It is the most restrictive voter ID law in the country, Veasey says. And he says he is afraid that if the law takes effect before the November election that there isn’t enough time to educate the public, or for those who don’t have sufficient identification under the law, to obtain one.

If the law takes effect, voters may only cast their ballots if they present a non expired driver’s license, Texas Department of Public Safety identification card, concealed carry license, a citizenship certificate with photo, a U.S. passport or military ID. The sate also would make available voter registration cards with photos at no fee, but obtaining one would require either one of the forms of ID listed previously, two of the following, or one of the following, plus two supporting documents:

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[list type=”check”]
  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate
  • Certificate of Report of Birth for citizens born abroad
  • Original or certified copy of a court order
[/list]

“People are going to walk up with their voter registration cards (in November), and they’re not going to be able to vote,” Veasey says. “They’re going to be turned away. Even with a very strong education component, there are people who have the right to vote but won’t be able to vote because they don’t have the proper ID.”

Veasey says he also fears that this is “the tip of the iceberg,” and that Texas Republicans will pursue even more restrictions on voting, including shortening early voting or requiring voters to present a passport or birth certificate to cast their ballots.

Veasey also touched on immigration reform, which h called “one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time.

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This is another issue split along party lines — Republicans refuse to vote in favor of any bill that allows a path to citizenship for anyone who came into the United States illegally. Veasey called that “unjust,” and said that reform must include a provision “that will help families and offer that path to citizenship.”

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  • Obvious

    Rather than throw money and resources to obstruct this reasonable law designed to decrease voter fraud, I suggest that these well-meaning opponents would do better to educate, empower and enable all legitimate voters to get the necessary ID before election day. How else do they propose to curb voter fraud? Are we supposed to allow someone to vote on their say-so alone?