In March, Ari Berman of Mother Jones tweeted the following:
Want to know how gun lobby dominates US politics?
In Texas a gun permit is a valid voter ID but a student ID is not pic.twitter.com/TsVZyNoP9g
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 6, 2018
While it’s been nearly six months since the tweet in question, it has popped up again and seems to have caused some confusion. As of publication, Berman’s statement has been retweeted more than 15,000 times, and received over 25,000 “likes.”
According to the Q&A section of the Vote Texas website, which is part of the Texas Secretary of State’s website, there are seven types of identification that can be presented at a state polling station, all of which are issued by the government. If you do not have one of the seven types of government-issued identification, you may “present a supporting form of ID and execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration…”
When a voter arrives at a polling location, the voter will be asked to present one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo ID (listed below). If a voter does not possess an acceptable form of photo identification and cannot reasonably obtain one, the voter may present a supporting form of ID and execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration, noting the voter’s reasonable impediment to obtaining an acceptable form of photo identification, stating that the information contained in the declaration is true, that the voter is the same individual personally appearing at the polling place to sign the declaration, and that the voter faces a reasonable impediment to procuring an acceptable form of photo identification. If a voter has continued access to their acceptable form of photo ID, but, for example, forgets to bring their acceptable form of approved photo ID to the polling place and/or left it, for example, at home or in their car, the voter still possesses the acceptable photo ID and must use it to vote.
Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID:
Texas Driver License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
Texas Handgun License issued by DPS
United States Military Identification Card containing the person’s photograph
United States Citizenship Certificate containing the person’s photograph
United States Passport (book or card)
SB14, the bill from which this voter identification issue arises, was passed in May 2011 and signed into law by then-governor Rick Perry. For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that SB5, which passed in 2017, alters SB14 slightly, but not in any way that would impact the discussion surrounding Berman’s tweet.
Among the proposed amendments to SB14 was Floor Amendment 18, which stated that “a license to carry a concealed handgun issued to the person by the Department of Public Safety of the state of Texas” would be a suitable form of voter identification.
The Floor Amendment, which was proposed by Democratic state Senator Juan Hinojosa, was passed unanimously.
Floor Amendment 19, which was introduced by then-Senator Ellis, proposed that “for a person who is a student at an accredited public university located in the state of Texas, a student identification card that contains the person’s photograph that has not expired issued to the person by the institute of higher education” would be a suitable form of voter identification.
The amendment was tabled in a 19-11 vote. Senator Hinojosa voted against tabling the amendment.
In order to understand why a concealed carry license is an acceptable for of voter identification in Texas and a student ID is not, The Daily Wire reached out to Senator Hinojosa.
DW: Why is a concealed carry license an acceptable form of voter ID while the student ID is viewed as unacceptable?
HINOJOSA: I supported both amendments. We were trying to find legitimate ways to expand the types of identification that could be used and that were reliable because the legislation was so restrictive. With a license to carry a concealed weapon, they do a background check, so they know who you are. It’s [probably] just as reliable as a driver’s license.
Hinojosa added that student ID as a form of voter identification can lead to confusion regarding the location from which one might cast a ballot. “Would they vote where they attend university, or would they vote back home?” Hinojosa asked.
DW: Do you know of any other arguments that were presented by your colleagues against using student ID as voter identification?
HINOJOSA: I guess you could be a foreign student ineligible to vote, and get a student ID.
DW: Is a student ID granted by a university on the same level as an ID issued by the Department of Public Safety?
HINOJOSA: No, the ID just identifies that you’re a student attending that university. So, you could possibly be a DREAMer, and still get a student ID.
DW: If that’s the case, why would you want a student ID to be a legal form of voter identification?
HINOJOSA: Well, quite frankly, I didn’t think about – the reason I’m telling you now – when I voted. Since then, a lot more information has come out about the different issues that relate to student IDs. I was not aware of that during the Senate floor debate. Upon reflection, I can see that there are issues [with student IDs] not being vetted well.
Ari Berman’s claim that the gun lobby “dominates U.S. politics” because in the state of Texas, concealed carry licenses are acceptable forms of voter identification while student IDs are not, is specious.
State Senator Juan Hinojosa, who introduced the amendment allowing concealed carry licenses to be accepted as a form of voter ID, is a Democrat who, as of 2016, has an abysmal 43% rating from the NRA, according to VoteSmart. Hinojosa also acknowledged in our interview that there are indeed issues with student IDs as it pertains to voting that aren’t present in other forms of identification, such as a photo ID or a concealed carry license.
Berman’s tweet is misleading. Whether he knows it or not, he is perpetuating a falsehood.