The Department of Public Safety is talking about closing some of their offices. If this did not involve the fundamental right to vote, I would look at it as a move toward efficiency. But it does involve the right to vote.

Some people are concerned about voter fraud. They want voting to require a picture ID. The laws of the State of Texas have been changed to require almost everyone who votes to have a picture ID. (The exception is people who have a gun permit. It does not have a picture and it can be used to vote.) This State requirement changes the role of the Department of Public Safety offices. A Texan citizen must obtain a picture ID from a DPS office before he can vote.

The proposal to close 78 DPS offices means that many people will not be able to easily travel to a DPS office to get their voter ID. Closing these offices is voter suppression. We all know that voter suppression is both unconstitutional and immoral. While the closing of these offices saves the State money, it causes an even greater expense for citizens. So this is false economy. An alternative would be to add a picture on the voter registration card and use it as the picture ID. These are issued by the County Clerk or his designee, often an Election Administrator.

There is a second act of voter suppression involved with picture IDs. There is a fee that you have to pay when get any picture ID from the DPS office whether you get a driver’s license or a Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS. The 24th Amendment to the American Constitution says that states may not charge a poll tax in order for someone to vote. The fee for a picture ID is a poll tax. The State of Texas should provide at least one form of picture id at no cost to the citizen voter to comply with the 24th Amendment.

Fred Meyer III