Texas Fails But Know There Is No Guaranteed Right To Vote
A federal appeals panel ruled Wednesday that a strict voter identification law in Texas discriminated against blacks and Hispanics violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law required voters to bring a government-issued photo ID to the polls. Individual voters, civil rights groups and the Department of Justice said it was discriminatory because a far greater share of poor people and minorities do not have these forms of identification and lack easy access to birth certificates or other documents needed to obtain them.
The overwhelming population of poor in our country are people of color. With that said, to get a government issued photo id in Texas, you can bring one of what the state calls “Primary Identity Documents”:
I’m poor, don’t drive and have never served in the military so these documents don’t apply to me. I can also obtain identification by bringing two “Secondary Identity Documents”:
Okay, I have a birth certificate, but where is the State Bureau of Vital Statistics and how can I get there in Texas if not by car, which I don’t own, or public transportation which costs money? Does the recovery of the documents themselves cost money? Still, there is a third way I can obtain a government issued photo id.
While there are more options, the problems are only exacerbated as more traveling and more money is now necessitated to obtain even more documentation that is now required. Poor people, whom are overwhelmingly people of color, are least likely to have disposable income to purchase government documentation required by the government here, nor the means to travel to get it.
No Guaranteed Right To Vote
Do the supporters of these voter id laws have the law on their side? The existence of the 15th, 19th and 26th amendments, which prohibit discrimination based on race, gender and age, implies there is no explicit right to vote in the Constitution. In fact, the court in Bush v. Gore (2000) stated:
The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College.
I think conservative scholar Hans Von Spakowsky states it best:
“It is correct that there is not an explicit provision in the Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote,” he said, “but several amendments guarantee the right to vote at age 18, free of racial discrimination, and protected by the Equal Protection doctrine.”
While we certainly have no guaranteed right to vote explicitly stated in the Constitution, voting is to be free of racial discrimination and is protected by the 14th amendment. It is for this very reason that voting is so important in the first place, and why many will prevent people from exercising their right to. Texas will have to rework their law though it is for a problem that is largely nonexistent.