Texas election officials: hundreds of Texans may have voted improperly

Texas election officials: hundreds of Texans may have voted improperly

According to Texas election officials, hundreds of people were allowed to improperly cast ballots [USNews report] in the recent presidential election, evading the state’s stringent voter ID law, by signing affidavits in lieu of showing their photo ID. State election officers are now contemplating whether to ask local prosecutors to bring criminal charges for the violations of the election laws. The Texas voter ID law, which required voters to show one of seven forms of identification to cast a ballot, was stepped back in August, allowing individuals to vote by signing an affidavit stating they faced an impediment to obtaining one of the seven forms of authorized identification. The lessened standard was implemented on the heels of an appeals court decision holding that the state’s voter ID law discriminated against minorities. Among those using this softened voting requirement were individuals who claimed to have ID, but refused to show it. One election official said “[i]f we see that somebody blatantly says ‘I have ID’ and refused to show it, we’re going to turn that over to the D.A..” While some perjury charges may be brought against those in violation of the law, it remains unlikely that much will come of the charges. Despite believing a large number of people broke the law, one county election official stated that it would likely not be proven in court “without a serious investigation or a lot of legwork.”

Voter fraud has been a hot button issue of late. Several states have enacted statutes to address the issue, often by setting a stricter requirement for what type of ID is necessary to be allowed to vote. Some have argued [JURIST commentary] however, that having stricter voter ID laws will not improve the integrity of elections. In April 2016 the Arizona Superior Court dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit alleging voter fraud during the 2016 primaries. In January the US Supreme Court refused to hear [JURIST report] a lawsuit about a Texas voter ID law, that would limit IDs that could be used to vote to seven specified government issued IDs.