By Ben Johnson
Election integrity laws that require voters to present an identification card are racist because “the underlying documents are hard to get,” according to a recent guest on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.” This is especially true if you are a “black or brown person,” Georgetown sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson told Chris Cuomo about Texas’ election integrity law. Yet, under Texas state law, it is possible to get all or most of the documents necessary to obtain a state ID for free, or possibly at taxpayers’ expense.
Chris Cuomo hyped his segment on voter ID laws by describing Dyson as “so smart, he’s got three names.” Cuomo then invited Dyson to weigh in on Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) defense of Texas’ anti-voting fraud measures during Senate hearings this week.
“Well, it was a shenanigan,” said Dyson. “It was a sleight of hand.”
Dyson contended that voter ID laws place an intolerable burden on minorities because “it takes a lot of money to get the underlying documents.”
“The reason a lot of black folk don’t have state issue IDs,” Dyson explained, is “because the underlying documents are hard to get.” He said it was harder “trying to get them as a black or brown person living in rural areas,” since that entails “trying to go to the document centers [and] paying the fees, anywhere from $75 to $175.”
“Now, that doesn’t sound a lot for people who are middle-class and upper middle-class,” said Dyson. “But for people who are struggling every day trying to make ends meet, this [has] a deleterious impact upon them.”
A review of Texas state laws governing state identification shows that most of the documents requested are furnished free of charge.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, a Texan seeking his first state ID card must prove 1) U.S. citizenship or lawful residence; 2) that he has been a resident of Texas for 30 days; 3) his identity; and 4) possession of a Social Security Number.
Dyson couched the law’s alleged racism by saying it imposes an undue burden on people of color. “Even if you exclude intent,” he said, the “disproportionate consequence on black and brown voters … you’ve got a nasty affair on your hands.”
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