New Hampshire voters who hope to see the integrity of state elections protected this fall should not get their hopes up. Attorney General Eric Holder is not about to uphold a state voter ID law if he can come up with any possible excuse for rejecting it. He made that clear during a Tuesday speech to the NAACP.
Commenting on the new Texas voter ID law, Holder said, “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes.”
Really? Texas accepts seven forms of ID: a driver’s license, election identification certificate, Dept. of Public Safety personal ID card, U.S. military ID, U.S. citizenship certificate, U.S. passport, or a state concealed carry license. The voter registration certificate is free. To get one, residents need only show that they are registered to vote.
The Justice Department claims that even with a free election ID certificate, the law is a racially disproportionate hardship because a voter would have to get to a DMV office to get one, higher proportions of black and Hispanic voters don’t own cars, and 81 of Texas’ 254 counties don’t have a DMV office.
The Justice Department’s position boils down to this: If someone has to travel to obtain an ID, then voter ID laws are poll taxes.
But Texas requires either a driver’s license number, state ID number or Social Security number just to register to vote. If you don’t have one, you can still vote — if you show an ID at the polling place. To do that, you have to get to the polling place.
And by the way, you don’t have to show an ID if you vote absentee.
The Texas voter ID law is more strict than New Hampshire’s new voter ID law. Perhaps that will save our law (though we would not bet on it). But the attorney general’s rhetoric strongly suggests that he is preparing a political case to keep elections open to people who cannot prove that they are who they claim to be.