Halfbaked Voter ID Expansion Proposed

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State Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) has filed legislation that would allow student IDs to be used as voter ID in Texas.

As is the case with many bills aimed at elections, this bill has consequences not highlighted in a press release or mainstream media regurgitation.

Filed on Tuesday, HB 1950 would amend current state law regarding voter ID adding, “an identification card issued by a public institution of higher education located in this state that contains the person’s photograph.”

Currently, acceptable forms of photo ID include a Texas driver’s license or election ID card issued by DPS, a U.S. military identification card that contains the person’s photograph, a U.S. citizenship certificate, a U.S passport, or a concealed carry permit, also issued by the DPS. Photo IDs must not have expired or expired no earlier than four years before the date of presentation.

Zwiener’s bill does not set expiration limits on how out of date a student ID can be and still be a valid form of voter ID. Other states considering using student IDs have noted costs of placing expiration dates on existing IDs as a logistical headache.

More importantly than the issue of expiration, all other forms of identification used for voter ID have and correspond to an address to which the holder is registered to vote. Student IDs do not have addresses, an important tool for disambiguation.

According to the University of Texas at Austin, an address is not required identification information collected to issue an ID.

And of course, the commonality with all other forms of ID, they have citizenship in mind. Student IDs do not.

Texas currently has a in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and resident non-citizens. UT administration officials confirmed that all students are issued uniform identification upon enrollment.

Texas is not alone in baring the use of student IDs as a form of photo ID for voting. Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee do not accept student IDs at the polls.

A press release touting HB 1950 stated that Texas has, “one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation.” Turnout rates in Texas and other states are artificially low due to unkempt voter rolls.

Zwiener’s as filed, would be effective September 1, 2019.

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