Jennifer Nou's Op-Ed on Texas Voter Photo ID Law

Texas' poll tax in disguise
Bruce Ackerman and Jennifer Nou
The Los Angeles Times
July 15, 2012

In 1964, the American people enacted the 24th Amendment, to prevent the exclusion of the poor from the ballot box. In his speech last week at the NAACP convention, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. wasn't indulging in election-year rhetoric when he condemned Texas' 2011 voter photo identification law as a poll tax that could do just that. He was speaking the hard legal truth.

The Justice Department would be right to challenge this new law as an unconstitutional poll tax. The department has temporarily blocked the Texas law under special provisions of the Voting Rights Act that prevent states with a history of discrimination from disadvantaging minority groups. But the attorney general should go further and raise a 24th Amendment challenge against Texas and other states that are joining the effort to bar the poor from the polls. This exclusionary campaign should not be allowed to destroy a great constitutional achievement of the civil rights revolution.

The 24th Amendment forbids the imposition of "any poll tax or other tax" in federal elections. Texas' law flatly violates this provision in dealing with would-be voters who don't have a state-issued photo ID. To obtain an acceptable substitute, they must travel to a driver's license office and submit appropriate documents, along with their fingerprints, to establish their qualifications. If they don't have the required papers, they must pay $22 for a copy of their birth certificate.

Faculty: 
Jennifer Nou

Comments

Voter Photo ID Law

If the Federal Government, both Democrats and Republicans, would enforce our immigration laws and protect our borders maybe the citizens of the US wouldn't be so mistrusting of the process. Unfortunately that is not the case. If Texas wants this law, I would if I were a Texan, then they need to make State I.D.'s available for free and they need to make obtaining copies of birth certificates available for free. To me, it's worth the cost. To me, the right to vote is a privilege worth protecting.