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Guest column: Defending voter ID
By Rep. Tan Parker, Guest columnist
General elections bring about many topics of political discussion, especially presidential election years that typically peak our electorate's interest. As a nation, we have had an engaging dialogue on many important issues facing us, including the issue I would like to discuss with you today, election integrity and voter identification laws.
In recent years, many states have passed voter ID laws to safeguard against election fraud by verifying one's identity when they cast their vote. During the 82nd Legislative Session, Texas lawmakers passed a voter ID measure that I was proud to support as a common sense firewall against voter impersonation and other fraudulent practices. Equally as important, our voter ID law contains exemptions for disabled citizens, the availability of a free form of photo ID and the ability for a person without photo ID to still cast a provisionary ballot. Sadly, though, Texas's voter ID law remains tied up in the judicial system and will likely have to be settled by the United States Supreme Court.
Opponents of election integrity use several myths in attacking this sound law that has seen great success in other states, many of which we now know not to be true. Voter identification does not place an unwelcome burden on minority voters. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 71 percent of Latino voters and 62 percent of African American voters shared their support for photo ID laws. The same survey found that 97 percent of Latino voters feel confident that they possess the necessary ID to vote, down just 1 percent from all respondents. We also now know that photo ID laws do not suppress minority turnout. For example, African Americans in Georgia are currently voting in record numbers despite the enactment of their photo ID law. If this year's trends in Georgia hold then African Americans will encompass a larger percentage of their state's electorate than they did in 2008, when President Obama first appeared on the national ticket.
We also now understand that voter ID is not a "solution looking for a problem." Two-thirds of respondents to a recent Rasmussen poll stated their belief that fraud at the polls is a major issue of concern. One need look no further than Texas for evidence, where a democrat campaign staffer was recently videotaped giving a person advice on how to successfully cast their vote twice. When I first wrote on this subject in 2007, I shared with you the finding that 6,700 non-citizens in Texas’s five most populous counties were illegally registered to vote, some with actual voting history. Without enactment of our photo ID law, regretfully, little progress will be made in combating this situation.
Another noteworthy example of the importance of photo ID comes from Virginia, widely viewed to be a swing state in this year's election. There the son of an incumbent democrat congressman recently resigned his position with his father's campaign after being caught in an attempt to impersonate over 100 registered voters in a state that does not have a photo ID law.
The need for photo ID laws is obvious, public support is strong, and the alleged burden it carries understood to be vastly overstated. We live in a society where one has to produce photo ID to conduct such routine activities as obtain a library card, cash a check, purchase certain cold medicines, board an airplane, even to be a delegate to this year's Democratic National Convention. It only makes sense that we would also safeguard our most cherished right as a democracy by simply verifying our identity when voting in our elections. That is why I supported Texas's voter ID law and that is why I will support it again if I am called upon to do so as your state representative.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives and I welcome your feedback on this and any other critical state issues. If you would like to share a thought with me, please feel free to contact me at my Capitol office at 512-463-0688 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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