The card pictured above is a Texas Voter Registration Certificate. Currently, that is the only document that a voter needs to cast a vote in the Lone Star state (and that has worked quite well for many decades). But that's not good enough for Republicans. During the last legislative session they passed a new Voter ID law, requiring a photo ID in addition to the Voter Registration Certificate before a citizen could vote. They claim it is because of massive voter fraud occurring in the state.
Of course, the Republicans have been unable to verify the claims of massive voter fraud. When the Texas Attorney General was asked to produce evidence, the best he could do was show there had been 51 instances of voter fraud since 2002 (and only three quarters of those involved such acts as impersonating a voter, voting more than once, or voting while not eligible to vote). Looking at voting statistics from the Texas Secretary of State shows just how utterly insignificant those 51 instances really are. Since 2002, there have been 29,297,105 votes cast in Texas in the general elections. That's a voter fraud percentage of .0000017% -- and that doesn't even count the primary elections held during those years (which would make that tiny percentage much smaller).
Obviously there is no problem involving voter fraud in the state. But this has never really been about voter fraud anyway. That was just the excuse the GOP used to suppress votes for their political opponents (the Democrats). They knew their Voter ID law would affect Democratic voters much more than any Republican voters. Last week, Texas had to defend that law before a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., and judging from the questions asked by the judges (and Texas inability to verify voter fraud) it is looking now like the Voter ID law will be overturned by the federal court.
But Texas Republicans are nothing if not obstinate, and they are determined to suppress Democratic votes in the state. With prospects looking dim for the Voter ID law, they have now come up with a new idea. They want to do the same thing that the Republican governor of Florida is doing -- just strike thousands of voters from the voter registration rolls. Secretary of State Hope Andrade has asked the federal government for access to Homeland Security's massive immigration data base. The idea is that they could use that data base to find immigrants who are ineligible to vote but are on state voter rolls. They would then strike those names from the voter rolls.
Of course this move is aimed directly at the Hispanic community, who make up the vast majority of immigrants in Texas. Why would they target Hispanics? That is easily answered by the graphic below.
And it's not just in the presidential race that the Hispanic vote is largely Democratic -- it extends all the way down the ballot. And it is those down-ballot races that Texas Republicans are most concerned about (since Romney is pretty much a lock to carry Texas). In districts that are only 60% to 65% Hispanic, making large numbers of voters ineligible to vote could give Republicans a real chance to flip the district from Democratic to Republican.
The fact that many of those on the Homeland Security data base may be difficult to find (or impossible) just plays into the plans of the GOP. They could just declare dozens (or even hundreds) of people with the same name to be ineligible -- and it would be up to all of those people to prove they really are eligible to vote, which could be very difficult in the short time before the election. And the more people that are disqualified, the more people will probably not be able to vote in November.
This new effort to suppress Hispanic (Democratic) votes is unethical and anti-democratic. But that is no surprise to those of us living in Texas. Ethics and democracy have not been big concerns for state Republican leaders for many years now.
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