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Special Report: Voters have to show a valid ID to vote in Texas but is the law discriminatory, unnecessary?

By Rick Cabrera, Anchor, rickcabrera@yahoo.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:17:51 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 06:37:06 PM CST

Reporter: Rick Cabrera

EL PASO, Texas -

Are you ready to show a valid ID to vote in texas?

It's a resounding yes for proponents of the new voter ID law, but opponents say it's discriminatory and unnecessary.

"You will be required to take a photo id to the polls."

Elections Administrator Javier Chacon is making sure everyone knows what to bring to the polls.

A Texas driver's license, personal ID card, or concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, military ID or citizenship certificate with a photo will all be accepted unless it's been expired for more than 60 days.

If not you will need to get an EIC or election identification certificate, but it's only for people who do not have a photo ID.

They are free and you can get one at the Department of Public Safety or a mobile site.

"Okay you're claiming you have no photo id at that point in time you have a voter registration card, you can take that, you can take your birth certificate and apply for one.  You fill out the paperwork.  They'll give you a temporary photo EIC which you can use at the poll," Chacon says.

But come election day if you forget your photo ID you will ned to vote with a provisional ballot.

"They'll fill it out and then they'll have 6 days after election day to bring that affidavit along with their photo id then their ballot will count."

It's those extra steps, and the costs associated with getting an EIC proponents fear will decrease voter turnout.

"They say its free but in order to get it you have to supply two forms of identification.  One of them is a birth certificate that costs at least $22 dollars, last I heard, so there is cost associated with obtaining this card."

State Senator Jose Rodriguez believes the law is unconstitutional and will eventually be struck down.

"I think the real reason it's on the books is because it's a deliberate attempt on the part of Republicans to hold back the latino vote in this country.  We're a growing population.  We're projected as a demographic to be the difference in all elections in the future."

Texas Attorney General and candidate for governor Greg Abbott disagrees.

"It actually promotes greater participation," he says while also eliminating voter fraud.

"I''ve prosecuted voter fraud across the state of texas in virtually every region of the state," adding "unfortunately it does exist."

Senator Rodriguez doesn't believe there is any proof.

"I don't think anyone can show the numbers that justify the trouble and the expense that people are put through to obtain these ID cards.  It has more to do with one party's decision that they can keep certain demographics."

Abbott doesn't believe certain populations across the state will be disenfranchised.

"We know for a fact that's untrue.  We know for a fact that what voter ID does is actually increase voter participation.  We've seen surveys also showing more than 97% of hispanics acknowledge they have the voter ID they think is necessary in order to participate."

A spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office told ABC-7 she was not aware of a single voter fraud case in the last decade.

Abbott points to 51 voter fraud convictions from 2002 to 2012, but only two of the cases were classified as "voter impersonation."

Republicans say convictions are scarce because dead voters never complain when someone else casts their ballot.

Democrats say Republicans chronically inflate isolated cases into non-existent trends.

The courts might have the final say, but not before november 5th.

We asked Chacon what is biggest concern was come election day.

"Well, hopefully that everybody will take their photo ID.  that's our biggest concern right there."

The Dallas Morning News recently reported some women voters whose voter registration cards have their maiden name while their IDs have their married name have run into problems at the polls.

One out of seven early voters in Dallas County have had to sign an affidavit verifying their identity.

There is a cost associated with educating voters on the new law.

A spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office told me $400,000 has been spent on t-v, radio, print and digital ads.

They can be seen and heard at votetexas.gov.
    

That's also were you can learn more about the new law.

There's a link at kvia.com.

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