The Department of Justice this week walked away from a challenge to a voter ID law
being litigated in Texas. And what it is no longer claiming is telling, because
it’s something the federal government shouldn’t have pursued in the
Despite progressive rhetoric to the contrary, it’s entirely appropriate to
require voters to prove they are who they say they are and live where they say they
live. This issue has already been settled in a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case, and
it’s been resurrected by election–reform opponents mainly as a means
of stirring partisan rancor, in our view.
to send an affirming
email to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Specifically, the Justice Department is no longer in agreement with a claim made
in a federal lawsuit that authors of a state law acted with discriminatory intent
when it wrote a voter ID law in 2011. The law required voters to show some form
of government–issued photo identification before voting. Driver licenses and
passports were among the types of identification specified in the legislation.
Other parties to the lawsuit are continuing to press the claim that Texas acted
with discriminatory intent with the 2011 law. That’s important because if
courts agree with that contention, the state could require judicial approval for
future changes to election laws.
Election–reform opponents have reflexively objected to such voter–ID
laws, in some cases claiming they have been drawn with racist intent. They aren’t.
Rather, they address the very real concerns many voters have with the integrity
of the elections process.
We believe voter fraud is a not a widespread issue, but that small numbers of illegally
cast votes can have a significant impact on local and statewide elections. Voters
need the assurance that their ballots count as much as everyone else’s, and
voter–ID laws help to assure that.
Texas is currently considering a revision to the law in question, according to Manny
Fernandez and Eric Lichtblau in a
recent story in The New York Times
. We hope they’ll arrive at something
akin to the current law in effect in our home state of Ohio. In the Buckeye State, voters may
verify their identity and residence with a photo ID or with other documents, including
a pay stub, utility bill or other document. If the goal of voter ID is to verify
the voter’s identity and residence – and it should be – it’s
in both the state’s and voters’ interests to make the means of that
verification as easy to acquire as possible.
We believe the previous administration’s actions against voter ID laws worked
against the sound public policy that elections should be conducted with safeguards
that assure their integrity. The current Justice Department was correct in standing
with election–reform advocates on this issue.
to send an email to
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, thanking him for this smart decision.