On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Thursday's district court ruling that Texas' voter ID law is unconstitutional, meaning the law will apply to this year's election just as it did last year. Student Government hopes the state will add student IDs to Texas’ list of seven forms of voter identification. SG sent the UT System Board of Regents a resolution supporting student IDs as voter IDs in May, announcing last week that the board had seen the resolution. Texas is one of six states that both requires a photo ID to vote and doesn't accept student IDs at the polls. Twenty states require a photo ID.
It makes sense that SG wants the regents to know students would like the state to accept their school IDs at the polls, but considering the probable political leanings of the regents (Gov. Rick Perry appointed all of them), they aren't exactly the best people to advocate for students' ease in voting. Although students would greatly benefit if Texas accepted public universities' student ID cards as voter identification, and this makes sense because these IDs are state-issued, part of the appeal of government-issued documents is that they're consistent and uniform. Of course, student IDs are uniform within each school, but Texas has 38 public universities, meaning it has many different student ID cards as well. I can't speak to the true intentions of the legislators who passed this law in 2011, but there may be some voter ID law supporters who truly believe the law is important to the integrity of voting (and don’t just want to disenfranchise Democratic voters), and unless Texas were to standardize student IDs, I doubt these particular voter ID law proponents would agree to adding student IDs to the valid ID list. Other proponents — those who implemented the law in order to hurt Democratic voters — probably wouldn’t allow student IDs even if they were standardized.
Chief of Staff Chris Jordan said SG intends to work to make changes to student IDs, so I hope this means SG will focus on ways to somehow encourage the state to standardize public university-issued student IDs across Texas. Although I'm skeptical that Texas will decide to accept student IDs for voting purposes, if public schools standardize their IDs, it’ll be a lot harder for the state to make a case against accepting these state-issued IDs.
Voeller is an associate editor.