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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.

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President Obama Encourages Innovation In Civic Technological Engagement

On Friday, President Obama gave a wide-ranging 45-minute keynote address (video) at South by Southwest Interactive here in Austin.

Among other things, he encouraged the audience to solve existing social inequities through the application of modern technological innovations.

Of particular interest to voters in Texas, the President responded to questions from Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief and CEO Evan Smith about

(1) electronic voter registration;

(2) the class and racial divides that cut off from the Internet a disproportionate percentage of racial minorities and people living in poverty; and

(3) low voter turnout in Texas. Related to turnout, the President dryly pointed out that the elected officials of the great State of Texas are not interested in encouraging voting. In Texas, he noted, we bear at least some of the responsibility for our poorly responsive state government.

To the extent that the President offered any prescriptions for the future,  he said that we need the tech community to cooperate with government-funded expansion of high-speed Internet access to underserved areas.

He also mentioned the new federal agency (launched 2015) the United States Digital Service, ConnectED (for K–12 public education), and public-private technological collaboration in general.

Full video here: http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/news/2016/president-obama-sxsw-keynote-video

Texas – An Electoral Wasteland

The Texas Tribune looks at the numbers with respect to Texas voter turnout, which is anemic.