Picture Perfect – What Is the Answer to the Problem of Photo IDs?

Why not fix the Texas photo ID problem?  Why use the problem to prevent the real solution to the problem?

I suggest that those who object should harness the energy and money they are spending in opposition to get the photo IDs in the hands of these voters.

An estimated, $13.3 million plus the efforts of concerned volunteers could get the job done. I am sure the interested parties could manage to raise the money to enfranchise the voters about whose rights they are so deeply concerned.  If election time approaches before all the voters get their IDs, they can request and submit absentee ballots without meeting the photo ID requirement.

The Attorney General of Texas submitted data to the U. S. Department of Justice showing that 605,000 eligible Texas voters may not have qualified photo IDs.

In federal court, the Department of Justice asserts that a disproportionate number of these voters are Hispanic & members of racial minorities; they claim that the photo ID requirement places “significant burdens” on minority voters, in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Texas counters that photo IDs are available free of charge, and that anyone who does not have an ID with them on election day can vote via provisional ballot, and return within a few days after the election with the ID to validate their vote.

Opponents to the requirements point to the costs of transportation to the DPS driver’s license office and the possible costs of providing proof of identity, (requirements are the same as for a driver’s license,) which could include $22 to get a certified copy of their Texas birth certificate.


Even if every one of the 605,000 “photo-less” voters had to get a birth certificate, the total cost would be $13.3 million at $22 each.

Acceptable identification documents include:

  1. One piece of “Primary Identification,” OR
  2. Two pieces of “Secondary Identification,” OR
  3. One piece of “Secondary Identification” plus two pieces of “Supporting Identification.”


For non-drivers, a certified copy of a birth certificate costs $22 dollars from the state of Texas; (other states charge various rates for certified copies in the range of $28 – 72.)


As with driver’s licenses, holders of the Texas election identification card must get a replacement card when they move to a new residence, and must renew the card every 6 years for $16.

These requirements are no more onerous than requirements for a US passport.


Federal Requirements for State Issued IDs

Ironically, the Federal Government enacted the REAL ID Act in 2005 with these requirements for state driver’s licenses.

“Documentation required before issuing a license or ID card

Before a card can be issued, the applicant must provide the following documentation: [20]

  • A photo ID or a non-photo ID that includes full legal name and birthdate.
  • Documentation of birth date.
  • Documentation of legal status and Social Security number
  • Documentation showing name and principal residence address.

Digital images of each identity document will be stored in each state DMV database.”


Summary of the New Law Compared to the Previous Law:


Election Code §63.001 et seq.

NOTE:  TX’s new photo ID law takes effect after preclearance by the USDOJ. Pre-clearance was denied on March 13, 2012, and the state is expected to apply for reconsideration from the Federal District Court of Washington, D.C.

Existing law:

On offering to vote, a voter must present the voter’s voter registration certificate to an election officer at the polling place.

New law:

On offering to vote, a voter must present to an election officer at the polling place one form of identification.

Existing law:

Voter registration certificate

  • Driver’s license
  • Department of Public Safety ID card
  • A form of ID containing the person’s photo that establishes the person’s identity
  • A birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person’s identity
  • U.S. citizenship papers
  • A U.S. passport
  • Official mail addressed to the person, by name, from a governmental entity
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the person’s name and address
  • Any other form of ID prescribed by the secretary of state

New law:

  • Driver’s license
  • Election identification certificate
  • Dept. of Public Safety personal ID card
  • U.S. military ID
  • U.S. citizenship certificate
  • U.S. passport
  • License to carry a concealed handgun issued by the Dept. of Public Safety

All of the above must include a photo of the voter. With the exception of the certificate of citizenship, these forms of ID cannot be expired, or cannot have expired more than 60 days before the election.

Existing law:

A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate when offering to vote, but whose name is on the list of registered voters for the precinct in which the voter is offering to vote, shall be accepted for voting if the voter executes an affidavit stating that the voter does not have the voter’s voter registration certificate in the voter’s possession and the voter presents other proof of identification. A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate and cannot present other identification may vote a provisional ballot. A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate and whose name is not on the list of registered voters may vote a provisional ballot.

New law:

A voter who fails to present the required identification may cast a provisional ballot.  The voter must present, not later than the sixth day after the date of the election, the required form of identification to the voter registrar for examination OR the voter may execute, in the presence of the voter registrar, an affidavit under penalty of perjury stating that the voter has a religious objection to being photographed or that the voter does not have identification as a result of a natural disaster declared by the president or the governor which occurred not earlier than 45 days before the date the ballot was cast.


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