Nov 19, 2020 in Politics

Texas vs Oregon Voter Registration Laws
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Texas vs Oregon Voter Registration Laws

Population in Texas is composed of high class Americans with few African Americans and representatives of other races in the state. In Oregon, the composition of its residents is unique as it is comprised of people of different races who speak a variety of languages, with various levels of incomes; hence there are low class as well as middle class people living in the state. In politics, the US has two parties, the Republican and the Democrat. Texas is mainly supported by the Republicans whereas Oregon is supported by the Democrats. The legislation Committee of the Texas State House passed the bill that seems right to them and supports the law which helps them maintain their status and political powers. Therefore, Texas has not considered other races and the poor in its voter registration unlike Oregon which has embraced the laws requirement of voter registration by allowing all residents to register and vote.

 

Voter Identification Laws

Voting in the US is an important exercise even though it is not compulsory for every person. Voter identification is significant during registration and casting of ballot. Although valid forms of identification differ from state to state, the common ones include driving license, military identification card and state-issued identification card. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 33 states have enforced the law of voter identification requirements in 2016. Out of them, 19 states demand of voters to present photo identification like in Texas and Georgia while 14 other states like Oregon accept other forms of identification like bank statement, paycheck or government check, current utility bill or any document from government with the name and voters address. Some states allow the residents to vote even though they do not have valid identification, however, they will not cast a provisional ballot. This is referred as a non-strict requirement. Out of 19 states that demand photo identification, 9 of them are not strict over the identification. 12 out of 14 states that accept other forms of identification also require non-photo identification; therefore, it is the non-strict requirement. The remaining 2 states demand of those voters without valid forms of identification to cast provisional ballots, thus, it is a strict requirement. Those who support these voter identification stipulations, mainly the Republicans, argue that these prerequisites will help in preventing fraud through voter impersonation and it will help in increasing public confidence in the process of election. However, those who oppose these stipulations, the Democrats, argue that the requirements go against the rights to vote, there is an increase in unnecessary costs and it creates burden on election administrators.

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Texas vs Oregon Voter Registration Laws

In Texas, the law is strict on the requirements of the identification in order to register as a voter. One has to present the driving license, military identification card or concealed handgun license in order to register as a voter. This restricts minorities like the poor and elderly from voting because most of them do not have the required identification for registration. However, Texas passed a law that made it possible to obtain Texas birth certificate for free so that they can easily get the election identification. The legislation about voter identification requirement passed in Texas in 2011 has led it to the corridors of justice because it is believed to be a barrier to achieving democracy through voting. In Oregon, it is easy to register as a voter, especially when one is a citizen and resides in the region. This state carries the voting exercise by mailing the ballot. Therefore, those states where it is easy to acquire citizenship have high levels of voter registration hence higher voter turnout, because the procedure is not strict. This simplicity in acquiring citizenship and registration of voters empowers the immigrants to enter the political system.

In Texas, voters who do not have proper identification can cast provisional ballots and present themselves within six days after election. However, exceptions are made to voter identification requirements on religious objections against being photographed and in case of recent natural disaster of less than 45 days before casting ballot.

 
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Impact of Voter Registration Laws on Voter Turnout

In Oregon, the law which came into effect in January will allow over a half of 600,000 eligible unregistered voters to register. This state allows voting by mail and it has instituted automatic registration through the DMV. Since 2013, many volunteer organizations and the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) are partnering with the Oregon State to assist it in registration of new voters. After the end of USCIS ceremony of taking an oath of citizenship, new Americans are registered immediately as voters by volunteers. For instance, between 4000-5000 people register each year in Oregon. Therefore, it is considered the most successful state for registering naturalized citizens to vote. It is expected that during election, voter turnout will be high because the state has registered large numbers of new voters.

In 2012, Texas imposed strict rules like restricting mailing of registration cards or making photocopies of the same which hinder voter registration. Although, the legislations were strict during 1960s that barred African Americans from voting, the situation has partially improved because of 2013 Supreme Court ruling which reviewed The Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, there are still few people registering as voters thus causing low voter turnout due to lack of identification required.

Oregon advocates a view of language as a barrier to achieving democracy by not allowing all residents to vote. The region comprises of many people speaking different languages other than English, like Spanish, Nepali, and Somali. This makes a voting process a challenge for those who do not read and understand English. The community has, however, taken the initiative to help in translating and filling-in the forms, and explaining the whole process in politics. Appointing poll workers who know more than one language motivates people who cannot understand English to become citizens and register as voters. Thus, high turnout for voters is expected.

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Impact of Voter Registration Laws on the Election Outcome

In Texas, the legislation committee is mainly composed of the Republicans who do not support automatic voter registration. This is because they fear that the large number of poor and young voters may be registered and support democrats. Moreover, they believe that automatic registration based on the DMV will encourage fraud, especially through registering teens who are young to vote, and allow immigrants who do not have proper documents to obtain the drivers licenses.

Automatic voter registration ensures more accuracy unlike the paper works initially done. Additionally, it saves money on recruiting the registration clerks thus saving 50 cents on every registration. The saving nature of automatic registration influences the Republicans in Georgia, Oklahoma and Florida to accept and adopt it in their states. The idea is also supported by many presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton who argues that automatic registration will allow the young people, the elderly, people with disabilities and the poor in the community to exercise the right to vote without obstacles. Thus, according to the survey conducted, many people supported Clinton as the presidential candidate hence granting her the support base of 28 percent.

Conclusion

The strict requirements during voter identification restrict people who do not possess the stipulated identification documents from becoming eligible voters. In states where these stipulations are not strict and which have embraced automatic registration like Oregon, many people are registered and they become eligible to vote thus raising the turnout levels and the outcome of the election. Therefore, simplicity in acquiring citizenship, automatic registration and, finally, online voting help in saving cost and encouraging many people to exercise their democratic rights. Indeed, voter identification and registration laws determine the voter turnout and the outcome of the election in every state.

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