Read: The Existential Crisis of Voter ID Laws
In a UT/TT poll that came out early this month, it was shown that most Texans believe that those who are ineligible to vote because they lack citizenship actually do vote “sometimes” or “frequently.”
That is of course incredibly disheartening when you consider that there just isn’t significant evidence to back that level of voter fraud up. And when you consider that it is this myth that serves as the genesis of where our modern day voter ID laws across the nation come about, it’s downright depressing. Voter ID laws “fix” a problem that doesn’t exist. A problem some of us got sold on. A problem that apparently too many of us are buying into. The more we buy into such tall tales, the more paved the road becomes for new and particularly harmful legislation.
And while we can’t definitively say that voter ID laws impact participation in elections … we also can’t say that voters aren’t discouraged from going through the voter registration process at all by them. Because the reality we know to be true is that these laws DO impact communities of color, young and elderly voters alike. They often hit people, 100% eligible voters mind you, without the means or resources to comply with the ID requirements the most. Not to mention a public that is not well informed on the specifics of any given voter ID law (or changes to said law, making it modestly less awful) is probably less likely to be ready to turn out come Election Day.
What we can also acknowledge to be true is that these laws don’t seem to address the very fraud they would have you believe they’re designed for. (Which would make one wonder why they were ever sold to us in the first place.)
There are, however, a good many people that these laws and, more importantly, ramped up versions of these laws run huge potential to hurt. Particularly as lawmakers start to feel emboldened to take more steps that could negatively impact our communities and fellow voters.
As Texas continues through her legislative session, it’s important that our elected officials hear from us on a range of policies related to voting and voter rights in our state. Because as long as politicians continue to stoke baseless fears that the “others” are coming to take our votes, there will continue to be the push for restrictive laws that just make it harder or needlessly more complicated for those of us who can vote to do so. We should always, always view these proposals with the utmost critical eye. Who are these laws aimed to help? Who ultimately runs the risk of being hurt? What’s the intention?
When it comes to our votes, I can’t see an endgame where it makes sense to yield even one inch of ground without knowing these answers.