The Texas House has passed a bill requiring voters to bring ID to polling places. Which is great! If your aim is to surpress minority and low-income voters, without even addressing the problem you made up as an excuse.
Texas' voter ID law passed by 101-48 margin on Wednesday night, after Democrats exhausted their parliamentary stalling tricks. Governor Rick Perry listed it as one of his "emergency items"; laws aimed at alleged widespread voter fraud are favorites among Republicans, who, unable to process that sometimes people prefer Democratic candidates, are completely baffled when they lose elections, and insist that they must be the victims of fraud. It could go into effect as soon as the 2012 election.
Which would be bad news. Voter ID laws are, in effect, racist, disproportionately affecting minority and immigrant voters and reducing registration and voter turnout among those groups. Not that Republicans, who are engaged in a concerted effort to alienate as many immigrants and voters of color as possible, care: It's those minorities who are perpetrating the voter fraud, as you might know from that forward from Uncle Rick about ACORN. (The Supreme Court, which has not given a shit about poor people in years, ruled that voter-ID laws are constitutional in 2007.)
But! Voter ID laws aren't just racist, they're also useless. The first issue is that the problem they've been designed to solve is essentially nonexistent. The justice department charged all of 95 people with election fraud between 2002 and 2005, a span during which hundreds of millions of people voted. Royal Masset, former political director of the Republican Party of Texas, calls the Republicans' "religious" belief in voter fraud "a lie. It's not true. It does not exist."
And worse than inventing a problem to implement a stupid law is making the law so stupid it doesn't even fix the problem you made up. "Most voter fraud would be in the mail-in ballots, and the elderly are targeted because they are vulnerable. A photo ID would not have any effect on fraud in early voting," Pearlie Valadez, Jim Wells County elections administrator, told the Houston Chronicle. As Slate's Richard L. Hasen put it all the way back in 2006, "there is precious little evidence of the kind of voter fraud a state voter ID card requirement would deter."
None of this, obviously, has stopped Texas Republicans. Calhoun County election official Dora Garcia thinks the new law "can't hurt," even though "[a] driver's license doesn't make you a U.S. citizen." What's that? "As far as illegals go, I don't think they care about voting unless they are pushed into it," Garcia says. Which is why we need a voter-ID law, I guess?