Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) offered an impassioned defense of his state’s voter photo ID law during an appropriations hearing featuring Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday. But he didn’t get the details quite right.
In the middle of Culberson’s questioning of Holder during an Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department’s budget request, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) asked Culberson whether photo IDs issued by state universities could be used at the polls under the Texas law.
“I…. I don’t know why it wouldn’t, I don’t see any prohibition against it, I read it, I don’t see it,” Culberson said. “I’ve read it and I don’t see any prohibition against a photo ID issued by a state university in Texas.”
Culberson continued: “I see nothing in the law that prohibits a valid student ID issued by a state university from being used to vote.”
There’s been plenty of reporting about how student IDs issued by Texas state universities would not, in fact, be allowed under the law, which is currently under review by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Under the new requirements, only driver’s licenses, law enforcement personal ID cards, military IDs, citizenship certificates, U.S. passports or a license to carry a concealed handgun would be accepted.
When Fattah later pulled up a copy of the Texas statute on his iPad to demonstrate that state university IDs wouldn’t be accepted, Culberson changed his tune a bit.
“It’s up to the state legislatures to determine whether or not the verification procedures for issuing that ID are sufficient. I’m confident they had good reason,” Culberson said, maintaining that he didn’t see student IDs banned under the legislation.
Fattah said that allowing concealed weapons permits but not student IDs at the polls showed the bill was about a lot more than trying to stop in-person voter impersonation fraud.
“The issue here is we’ve got some people who think that the kids at college are snobs or kids of snobs” — referencing a line Rick Santorum has used on the campaign trail — “and that the people who carry concealed weapons are patriots,” Fattah said. “We don’t want the right to vote to be subjected to these partisan types of views, that’s why these issues need to be reviewed. Because a student ID issued from a state university in Texas should be, in my opinion, just as valid… as any other state issued form of ID.”