June 12, 2012
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Proposed SB 14, known widely as the Texas Voter ID bill, poses a threat to young voters and direct threat to young voters in colleges and universities around the state. In this economy and with the high unemployment rates for young people of color, we are sure that incorporating cost into the election process will create a burden for young voters.
The 2011 Texas Legislature passed a Voter ID law that would not allow students to use their student IDs to vote. An amendment was presented and rejected by legislators that would have added student IDs issued from state universities as valid forms of identification accepted to vote.
Texas’ proposed law is different from most of the other Voter ID laws as it does not allow for expired IDs even if they were issued by the state of Texas, it would exclude the use of Identification from other states even with a voter registration card and student ID cards would no longer be acceptable.
This in contrast to states that already have a Voter ID law in place like Georgia. In Georgia, use of a state student university ID is allowed as an acceptable form of identification for a voter. If a student in Texas wanted to vote they would have to have a current non-expired state-issued ID or drivers license, a military ID, a passport or visa or a concealed handgun license.
Students historically could register on campus and show any picture ID but now students have to register, go to the DPS, stand in line and present a series of documents including proof of citizenship and a birth certificate to get a voter card. It would cause a burden to students who would have to get documents from other states, pay for the needed documents in Texas, find transportation to the DPS and most of all, stand in that ratchet line all day to register and vote.
The card does not expire but must be updated if you move or change your address…so, students who move every year would have to get this card every year they are in school if they want to vote.
We are working on the ground to educate young voters and their families about the potential impact of the bill and making plans to prepare students from the campuses for young voter engagement in the fall and election protection. In addition, we will be training young voters to be their own advocates in the state legislature and work proactively to protect the youth vote during this next legislative session.
The key to the work that we do everyday is to remember that “Superman ain't coming” and that there is not an age requirement to change the world -- we don’t need permission to do that. There is not a line; just start reading and “get your weight up” and your community can be the community you envision. It will take work and it does start with you.
Christina Sanders is the state director of the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund. She is based in Houston.