A pair of articles from the Washington Post today show why Republicans should be so proud of their efforts to combat the nonexistent threat of voter fraud with laws that require documents that 11% of American citizens don’t have. And – quel surprise! – the affected voters tend to vote Democratic: the elderly, blacks, Hispanics, and the poor. Cue Claude Rains.
First up is Robert Barnes’ article on the hearing today before the full Fifth Circuit court in New Orleans.
A high-stakes election-year legal battle over voting rights gets an important test Tuesday as 15 judges will consider whether Texas’s strictest-in-the-nation voter-identification law will be in effect for the presidential contest this November.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has so far left in place a law that three other courts have said discriminates against African American and Hispanic voters, who are less likely to have the specific identification documents the law requires.
The full court now will review the law and is under pressure from the Supreme Court to decide by July whether it is a responsible approach to combat voter fraud or an impermissible Republican effort to discourage minority turnout.
Am I the only one who finds it troubling that a law that THREE separate courts have found to be unconstitutional was in effect in 2014 and may yet be again in 2016?
If you’re not familiar with the recent history of the voter ID phenomenon, Barnes’ article is a good place to start.
In a separate piece, Sari Horwitz brings us the stories of several Texas residents and their struggles to get the “easily obtainable” ID documents necessary to vote. Texas state motto: “you can vote with a gun license, but not with a student ID.”
Take Anthony Settles:
In his wallet, Anthony Settles carries an expired Texas identification card, his Social Security card and an old student ID from the University of Houston, where he studied math and physics decades ago. What he does not have is the one thing that he needs to vote this presidential election: a current Texas photo ID.
For Settles to get one of those, his name has to match his birth certificate — and it doesn’t. In 1964, when he was 14, his mother married and changed his last name. After Texas passed a new voter-ID law, officials told Settles he had to show them his name-change certificate from 1964 to qualify for a new identification card to vote.
So with the help of several lawyers, Settles tried to find it, searching records in courthouses in the D.C. area, where he grew up. But they could not find it. To obtain a new document changing his name to the one he has used for 51 years, Settles has to go to court, a process that would cost him more than $250 — more than he is willing to pay.
“It has been a bureaucratic nightmare,” said Settles, 65, a retired engineer. “The intent of this law is to suppress the vote. I feel like I am not wanted in this state.”
Smart guy, a hell of a lot smarter than the judges hearing these cases.
Oh, BTW, Settles is black. And 65.
Next up, Myrtle Delahuerta. Psst, she’s Hispanic. And 85.
But Myrtle Delahuerta, 85, who lives across town from Randall, has tried unsuccessfully for two years to get her ID. She has the same problem of her birth certificate not matching her pile of other legal documents that she carts from one government office to the next. The disabled woman, who has difficulty walking, is applying to have her name legally changed, a process that will cost her more than $300 and has required a background check and several trips to government offices.
“I hear from people nearly weekly who can’t get an ID either because of poverty, transportation issues or because of the government’s incompetence,” said Chad W. Dunn, a lawyer with Brazil & Dunn in Houston, who has specialized in voting rights work for 15 years.
“Sometimes government officials don’t know what the law requires,” Dunn said. “People take a day off work to go down to get the so-called free birth certificates. People who are poor, with no car and no Internet access, get up, take the bus, transfer a couple of times, stand in line for an hour and then are told they don’t have the right documents or it will cost them money they don’t have.”
“A lot of them just give up,” Dunn said.
Giving up? Not voting? The law is working precisely as intended. Good work, GOP.
And remember, folks, Texas is but one of 17 states that will be enforcing a voter ID law for the first time in a presidential election in November.
What could possibly go wrong?