New Voter ID law wasn't a problem

Published on Thursday, 14 November 2013 21:59 - Written by

The election results are in, and the clear winner is the integrity of the Texas ballot box. Predictions that the state’s new Voter ID law would hurt the poor and minorities failed to come true. Those groups voted in numbers comparable to before the law was in place. And widely reported “problems” at the polls proved not to be real problems at all.

Even the New York Times had to admit this.

“On Tuesday, Texas unveiled its tough new voter ID law, the only state to do so this year, and the rollout was sometimes rocky,” the Times reported. “But interviews with opponents and supporters of the new law, which required voters for the first time to produce a state-approved form of photo identification to vote, suggest that in many parts of the state, the law’s first day went better than critics had expected.”

Still, the Times pointed to a couple of high-profile incidents that supposedly demonstrated how “rocky” the rollout was.

“First, Judge Sandra Watts was stopped while trying to vote because the name on her photo ID, the same one she had used for voter registration and identification for 52 years, did not exactly match her name on the official voter rolls,” the Times wrote. “A few days later, state Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat who became a national celebrity after her filibuster over a new abortion law, had the same problem in early voting. So did her likely Republican opponent in next year’s governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott.”

But here’s the thing — all three were allowed to vote. They simply signed affidavits saying they’re who they claimed to be. The system worked exactly as it should. Names that don’t match the voter registration records get a little more scrutiny.

Of course, those opposed to Voter ID laws say that results don’t matter.

“We have always felt there was anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 voters who would not be able to present the proper identification,” League of Women Voters president Linda Krefting told the Times. “The concern we have is that all this flap in the news may have discouraged people from turning out at the polls.”

This kind of argument places an unreasonable — in fact, impossible — burden on supporters of the law. Opponents say more people might have voted. That claim is impossible to disprove.

But we can look at vote totals. Nearly twice as many Texas — 1.14 million — voted last week, than voted in 2011, the last similar off-year election. The 2011 total was 690,052.

The Times article is pretty surprised that no problems cropped up. That’s because the article perpetuates some long-discredited claims about Voter ID laws.

For example, it claims that voter fraud is rare — although “rare” is a subjective term. Voter fraud does occur, however; just last week, a Brownsville woman pleaded guilty to such charges. And we are the state that boasts the magical Ballot Box 13, which handed Lyndon Johnson a Senate seat in 1948.

Opponents of the Voter ID law predicted disaster. It didn’t happen. The law worked.