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Opinion: Voters aren’t the only ones who need photo IDs

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Not surprisingly, the Obama Justice Department is opposing a Texas law requiring voters to show photo ID, claiming that it disproportionately disenfranchises Latino voters. It’s the latest example of a familiar trope: Democrats oppose voter ID, calling it unnecessary and discriminatory; Republicans support it, arguing that impersonation at the polls is a real, if hard to quantify, problem. Not so coincidentally, racial minorities tend to favor Democratic candidates.

Neither of the warring narratives is totally satisfactory. It’s plausible that members of economically disadvantaged minority groups are less likely to have, say, a driver’s license. But I felt my eyebrows elevating at the Justice Department’s estimate that between 175,000 and 304,000 registered Latino Texas voters lack driver’s licenses or other state-issued IDs. Really? On the other hand, Republicans’ fears of fraud at polling places seem forced. They have a point, though, when they say that it’s anomalous that you need a photo ID to board a plane but not to vote.

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It’s crazy that 175,000 (or 304,000?) Texans of whatever background don’t have government-issued photo IDs and might have difficulty buying a plane or train ticket. They need to get IDs, and the government should help -- regardless of what happens on Election Day. Like it or not, in 21st century America your face is your fortune.

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