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Editorial: Court’s Texas decision undemocratic

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | OCTOBER 20, 2014 5:00 AM

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The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed a Texas law increasing the number of required credentials to vote in the coming election in November. The law mandates that voters must have forms of photo identification in order to cast their ballots.

The implications of the law go beyond simply verifying the identity of voters — the law has the potential to prevent numerous voters from participating who would have been otherwise eligible. The decision made by the Supreme Court was not unanimous for this very reason, with three of the justices in dissent. 

The goal of taking these increased measures is ostensibly to reduce instances of voter fraud, but this tightening of requirements could result in numerous citizens in Texas without proper identification being disenfranchised and deprived of their right to participate in the election process.

There is a thin line between taking steps to ensure that the voting process is carried out accurately as well as efficiently and using change in procedure as a form of de jure discrimination with the intent to keep voters away from the polls. This is by no means a new issue, and it’s one that plagues states across the country.

Those in opposition of stringent voter ID laws make the argument that these laws are being implemented in a similar fashion as the more antiquated methods of voter discrimination such as egregious poll taxes and literacy tests. It can be argued that those who would be affected the most by the changes in voter requirements would be minorities and other members of society for whom procuring the necessary documents would be more difficult.

In Iowa, there have been issues concerning crackdowns in voter ID laws, led by Secretary of State Matt Schultz with his investigation into voter fraud, which yielded very few results. With the low number of actual incidents of confirmed fraud, the laws proposed to fight them would do more to keep legitimate voters from placing their ballots.

When the means blatantly do not correspond with the ends they are put in place to achieve, it leads one to question the legitimacy of the intentions. If the intentions of the enhanced voter ID laws are designed specifically to give an advantage to one political party over another, the law is then undermining the entire institution of a representative government composed of all eligible citizens.

The law should protect the rights of the people and their choice to participate in the election of their representatives in government. No one has the authority to determine what citizens should be able to vote, and any attempt to influence the election process by those in authority is a precursor to tyranny. This is a country built on the principles of democracy, and when those principles are defiled, it is the result of a moral corruption that threatens to twist those ideals into a government unresponsive to its citizenry. 


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