In Texas you can cast a ballot without producing any ID or even without your name being on the voter roll for the precinct in which you attempt to vote. However you are not guaranteed that the ballot will be counted.
Prior to 2011, anyone who insisted on voting at a precinct — even if they did not produce identification or was on the voter roll for that precinct was still allowed to cast a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot was not counted towards the vote total until the county review board approved it. The election judge was required to mark the reason that the ballot was being cast provisionally. This could be that the voter did not produce identification, the voter was not listed on the rolls, or that the voter had moved out of the county, etc.
Someone who did not produce a valid ID would have their ballot disqualified. Someone who produced valid ID (a drivers’ licence,say, but was not on the county’s list of registered voters would be disqualified — as would anyone who had moved out of the county. On the other hand, if Joe Smith came in, showed their driver’s licence, but was not on the precint’s list but was on the county roll of registered voters (yes, this DOES happen) would vote provisionally and have the vote qualified by the county review board.
It is a good system if the election judge is rigorous. Qualified voters have their votes count — even if the ballot roll is screwed up. Cheaters do not. The real problem arises when election judges get lazy or careless and allow questionable voters to circumvent the provisional ballot rules.
In 2012 — as I believe — you will also have to produce a picture ID in addition to your voter registration card to vote normally. Again this is only if the law survives Holder’s attempt to block it. But even under previous law, the type of (shall we say) Chicago-way voter fraud is difficult to accomplish in Texas.
The real risk of voter fraud comes from the election workers. It is easier to stuff the ballot box after polls close than to have ringers vote. Texas deals with this by requiring poll workers from both parties to be in the polling place. It is hard to stuff a ballot box when someone from the other side is looking over your shoulder.
I worked the polls in suburb adjoining Houston last election. Although turnout was relatively light, everyone who came in to vote had their driver’s license and voters registration card in their hand and presented it without our even having to ask. This is the way it should always be but I am sure won’t be during the primary or general election this year.