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Implementing Photo I.D. Requirements In Texas Elections — An Oral History

Reporter Jessica Huseman of ProPublica spent the last six months working on a huge, complicated feature story, and the fruit of her efforts was posted Tuesday, May 2, on the Texas Tribune and ProPublica sites.

The lengthy story is excellent; it summarizes and clarifies the complicated motives and mechanisms by which lawmakers more-or-less knowingly painted themselves into the corner of having to pass the 2011 photo I.D. restrictions.

That is, in order to count coup against moderate Republicans and the Democratic party rump in the Texas Legislature, state officials pushed the adoption of a restriction on voting that was not only deliberately provocative, but also illegal.

Subsequently, the State lacked the capacity, desire, or ability to allocate resources to mitigate the damage caused by the ill-conceived new law, compounding its … uh … I guess you would say, “bad optics” when attempting to mount a legal defense of the voter I.D. law in federal court.

But read the story — it’s rich and telling, and deserves close study.

P. S. Disclosure: Ms. Huseman interviewed me for the story.


Another Problem With Texas Photo I.D. Requirements

This post comes courtesy of Dan Teed (the Harrison County Elections Administrator), via the Texas Association of Counties elections list server. This issue reinforces that voter I.D. requirements should not be about confirming residence, but should merely be about confirming that a voter exists. By drafting a law that compels the use of just current drivers’ licenses, the Texas Legislature has managed to disenfranchise voters who must maintain out-of-state drivers’ licenses for their jobs.

As Mr. Teed reports, a considerable number of voters live along the Texas-Louisiana border – per Louisiana law, these people have to carry Louisiana drivers’ licenses for their jobs, but in some cases, they have lived and voted in Texas for 20 or 30 years. Because Texas DPS won’t issue a driver’s license to someone who maintains an out-of-state license, these voters are out of luck. They don’t qualify for election I.D. cards, and any other acceptable option for I.D. is expensive.

Similar problems likely arise for voters who commute to Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado for work.