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Inside Intelligence: About That Voter ID Lawsuit...

For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about the state’s photographic voter ID law and its chances in the courts.

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A federal judge in Corpus Christi heard closing arguments in the lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law this week and could rule any time. That case is expected to be appealed either way and could eventually land in the nation’s highest court. In the meantime, we asked our insiders in government and politics about the law.

Who benefits from it? Republicans, according to 59 percent of the insiders, while 19 percent said neither party benefits and another 16 percent said both parties do.

When asked whether the law addresses a real weakness in election security in Texas, 37 percent said it does, while 61 percent said it doesn't. 

The insiders split on whether the law prevents legitimate voters from voting, with 50 percent saying it does and 47 percent saying it does not.

Only 41 percent said the law violates minority protections in the federal Voting Rights Act, while 53 percent said it doesn’t. The insiders’ highest level of uncertainty registered on a question about what the courts will do: 40 percent said the law will be overturned, 39 percent said it will stand, and one in five said they don’t know how it will all come out.

We collected verbatim responses along the way and a full set of those is attached. Here’s a sampling:

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Who benefits politically from the state’s voter ID law?

• "No question - the populations that Democrats are most interested in mobilizing are among the least likely to have the most common forms of government-issued photo IDs."

• "Voters want to know that elections are fair. The party that champions the issue will earn the goodwill of the voters."

• "Everyone has the confidence that all election returns reflect the choices of legally registered voters."

• "The purpose is NOT to benefit a party, but to bring integrity to elections."

• "The issue benefits both. RS get to say 'We're protecting the ballot box!' Ds get to say 'They're suppressing the vote.' Good hollow rhetoric for each side."

• "Increasing public confidence in elections is beneficial to everyone."

• "In the beginning the Republicans benefit. Over time it will level out. There is no reason you shouldn't have to show an ID and there probably would have been much less push back if it had been rolled out over one or two election cycles."

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Do you think the law addresses a real weakness in election security?

• "Without requiring photo identification, it is easier for those who wish to undermine the system to do so."

• "But it makes it more efficient and can protect against future misuse."

• "Yes, but at about the same rate as preventing 18 year-olds from buying beer."

• "How else do you prove who you are without a photo ID?"

• "Indeed. Voter fraud is a real issue. Anyone who's worked the polls or done poll watching can vouch for that."

• "Your question implies that our elections are insecure. That isn't the case, unless you wish to focus on the threat posed by digital manipulation of the ballot box."

• "The real security weakness is in mailed ballots."

• "While I doubt the problem was epidemic, I am confident there were abuses. There no doubt will continue to be abuses, but this makes it harder."

• "Rand Paul is right. Voter ID is a racist power grab by people who know their ideas will not secure an electoral majority."

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Do you think the law prevents legitimate voters from voting?

• "Absent the occasional octogenarian featured on the local news, Texans have grown used to having to provide positive ID in any number of settings (pharmacies, airports, payday lenders...), what's one more?"

• "We don't know yet. But it's hard to imagine good faith reasons why Republicans in the Texas legislature have opposed proposals like allowing college IDs as acceptable forms of voter ID, and even printing a voter's picture on their voter registration card."

• "Most of the 'legitimate' voters are sitting at home watching American Idol."

• "I think that people who are registered to vote, likely have ID, and it is unlikely that they feel intimidated by the process of having to show their ID. You must show ID to cash a check, use a credit card, catch a flight, receive healthcare at a doctors office/hospital/clinic, have healthcare paid for by insurance (private insurance and Medicaid). I think that it is a common part of our everyday lives."

• "Yes. I know republicans don't want to believe it but there actually are some people who DO NOT have a photo id! And yes, they live, work and conduct business without a photo id - they do not fly, they have had an account at the same bank for DECADES and they are well known in their communities."

• "By intimidation--not by actual content of law"

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Do you think the law violates minority protections in the federal Voting Rights Act?

• "Unless it is coupled with an effort to prevent minorities from obtaining IDs available to all Texans, how can it?"

• "Hello, minorities from Dec. 31, 1999 are calling and want you to know the 21st century has started."

• "Race is NOT the issue. Voter integrity is and it benefits everyone."

• "Well of COURSE it does, that was the intention of the law! It was a 'legal' way to suppress minority voting!"

• "The law upholds minority protections by ensuring their vote is not diluted by the vote of those who are not eligible to vote."

• "No, minorities and non-minorities alike have to show their ID."

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Do you think the federal courts will overturn the law?

• "It won't be impossible to find a crack-pot district court judge to overturn it in the first instance, but the law will ultimately stand."

• "I learned long ago to not predict an outcome with a federal court."

• "This is a loser for the left and the media. 85% of Texans support photo ID."

• "One thing we all have to acknowledge is that the majority party is fairly sloppy when writing these laws. Almost everything they do gets overturned."

• "Maybe the district court will throw it out. Then the 5th Circuit will reverse. And the Supremes will go 5-4. One way or the other."

• "This particular court may try to overturn it. Venue shopping trip may have been successful."

• "Eventually, yes."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Victor Alcorta, Brandon Alderete, Clyde Alexander, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, David Cabrales, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Marc Campos, Thure Cannon, Snapper Carr, Janis Carter, William Chapman, Elna Christopher, Harold Cook, Beth Cubriel, Randy Cubriel, Denise Davis, June Deadrick, Nora Del Bosque, Holly DeShields, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, Jeff Eller, Jack Erskine, Jon Fisher, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Michael Grimes, Bill Hammond, Ken Hodges, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Robert Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Ramey Ko, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Luke Marchant, Kathy Miller, Steve Minick, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Keir Murray, Pat Nugent, Todd Olsen, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Jerod Patterson, Robert Peeler, Bill Pewitt, Jerry Philips, Wayne Pierce, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, Karen Reagan, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, Jeff Rotkoff, Tyler Ruud, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Jim Sartwelle, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Robert Scott, Steve Scurlock, Ben Sebree, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Tom Spilman, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Sherry Sylvester, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, Corbin Van Arsdale, Ware Wendell, Ken Whalen, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Woody Widrow, Christopher Williston, Seth Winick, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

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