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The Battle over State Voting ID Laws
Voting is a right citizens of our country have and no government entity should have the right to place restrictive conditions on voters wanting to vote. Recent events involving a new Texas voter ID law has come under fire from the Justice Department which has blocked enforcement of the current law. The question becomes whether such authority exists or should exist in determining the constitutionality of any state law passed and signed by their governor. The purpose of the new law appears to be to engrain integrity in the voting process by making sure those who vote are eligible and are the individuals they identify themselves to be.
In the action to block enforcement of this law the Justice Department references the Voting Rights Act the purpose of which I support. The intent is to ensure there is no discrimination in the qualifications for individuals to vote within each state. The decision by the federal government raises questions as to the purpose of taking such action in an election year. Voting requirements will be a critical factor in the forthcoming presidential election results in November 2012. Some reports have inferred the action was an attempt to increase the number of voters who may be favorable to President Obama. This is the type of statement which is hard to prove until events which it impacts have occurred.
The concept of integrity in election results hinges on the verification that individuals who voted were validated that they met all the recognized conditions for eligibility. This includes a verification they are American citizens and are who they say they are. There are millions of illegal immigrants in this country and requiring some form of id verification should be required in all states. Eligibility must be verified before an individual should be allowed to vote. Some supporters of voter ID requirements have stated you need identification to fly, purchase alcohol and medicine among other things and are confused at the resistance to this requirement.
Other problems making it necessary to require some form of identification to vote have been identified in media reports. Problems with the voter registration process within the United States have identified millions of registrations are either invalid or inaccurate. Other conditions involve registered voters still on the list who are deceased and individuals who are registered to vote in more than one state. These issues need to be addressed within the voter registration system and until they have been rectified voter id should be required. These problems may not exist or be known to exist in all states but the simple fact they do calls for the registration process to be modernized.
Texas is only one state of thirty-two states which has some form of voter ID requirement while nineteen others have no such requirement. One of the principle arguments on which the Department of Justice bases the decision is evidence of voting discrimination in the state of Texas. It is true that in the past voting discrimination did exist in Texas and other states but whether there is recent evidence of this fact is unclear. In an attempt to counteract the move by the justice department Texas filed an amended complaint to overcome the action by the justice department. The complaint identifies a provision of the Voting Rights Act, section 5 as amended in 2006 stating the authority exceeds the powers of Congress under Article IV of the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment. The amendment allows the justice department pre-clearance authority over several states, mostly Southern with a history of voter discrimination. Other references to the Constitution include Article I which identifies the powers of the government.
It is interesting to note in the action to block the new voter ID law in Texas that the Department of Justice references the section V of the Voting Rights Act and not Amendment 15 of the Constitution. Under this amendment the government has the power to enforce this requirement by appropriate legislation. Whether the Voting Rights Act is an appropriate piece of legislation for the Department of Justice to review state laws will be decided in the court room. The state of Texas has filed a formal complaint in reference to the action taken by the justice department to block enforcement of the new law.
The battle over the Texas law raises the issue of whether the justice department should have review rights over laws passed by individual states. It sets a dangerous precedent and one which need to be carefully examined. Granted the justice department does have the authority as defined in the Voting Rights Act but the question is whether it is in agreement with the Constitution and the rights of states. It is true that the justice department is the highest legal organization short of the Supreme Court and has the basic responsibility is to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States. Other responsibilities include safety against foreign and domestic threats and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.
Another question as to why Texas is being singled out for their new election law when over 30 other states have similar requirements. It is not knows at this point what makes this law different from others in the country and why the justice department has taken such action. As previously mentioned no state has the right to restrict eligible voters from casting their ballot. The key principle in voter ID laws appears to be instilling integrity in the election process.
It is important that all voters be citizens of the United States as a minimum along with some verification the individual in line to vote is the person casting the ballot. The number of illegal immigrants said to be in this country makes it imperative that some integrity be in place to ensure individuals voting are eligible or it will skew the data and the results. Votes and their results must be reliable and exhibit integrity principles. Controls must be in place to ensure election results accurately reflect the will of the public. .