National Review Online is pointing to instances of trouble at Texas polling places as proof that the state's overwhelmingly stringent voter ID law is “a good thing.”
NRO contributors Roger Clegg and Hans von Spakovsky argued that because four prominent, white Texans were eventually able to vote after experiencing problems with their identification, complaints about the voter ID law are “hysterical.” They went on to claim that a New York Times article that characterized the new ID law as “mak[ing] a dent at the polls” is overblown.
From Clegg and von Spakovsky's November 9 post:
A New York Times headline Thursday declared: “Texas' Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at the Polls.” A careful reading of the article will leave many readers scratching their heads about that title.
The article begins by noting that three prominent Texans -- state judge Sandra Watts, state senator Wendy Davis, and state attorney general Greg Abbott -- all had photo IDs that did not quite match their names on official voter rolls, and so all had to sign affidavits before they could vote. But ... they all could and did vote.
Jim Wright -- another Texan, whom the Times helpfully identifies as a former U.S. Speaker of the House -- had an expired driver's license, and so he had to produce a birth certificate. But ... he also voted.
So, when all is said and done, where's the “dent” ?
It's worth noting that these four voter-ID “victims” are hardly the poor, minority voters that the Left asserts are targeted by these laws. To the contrary, all four are white and quite prominent, one a Republican. They not only got to vote, they were alerted to discrepancies in their voter registrations that they can now get corrected.
This is the new Jim Crow?
The post went on to conclude that “there was really no problem after all” and that “there apparently are not large numbers of Texas voters who lack identification.”
Evidently, the fact that one in 10 registered voters in Texas lacks valid identification is of no great concern to NRO. Although Texas will provide "election identification certificates" to voters free of charge, voters must provide proof of citizenship and identity in order to get one. The documentation required to obtain a certificate -- such as a U.S. passport -- is generally not free.
As The Nation has reported, getting a valid form of ID in Texas to vote isn't easy or cheap:
[G]etting the necessary voter ID in Texas, which has one of the strictest laws in the country, is no walk in the park. As in [Jim] Wright's case, you need to pay for a birth certificate or another type of citizenship document to obtain one (which [Attorney General] Eric Holder called a poll tax). A handgun permit is an acceptable voter ID in Texas but a university ID is not. And there are no DMV offices in 81 of 254 counties in Texas. That's probably why only 50 of the 600-800,000 registered voters without voter ID in the state have so far successfully obtained one.
Moreover, the fact that four powerful Texans -- a state judge, two candidates for governor, and the former Speaker of the House -- were able to vote after signing affidavits or digging up dusty birth certificates is hardly evidence that Texas's stringent voter ID law is some kind of rousing success, as NRO seems to suggest. It is exactly because these voters are privileged that they were not deterred. According to an Election Day report from MSNBC, others were not so lucky:
Tuesday's off-year election was a dry run for Texas' controversial voter ID law. On the surface things went pretty smoothly, with few voters forced to cast provisional ballots. That was enough for the law's Republican supporters to claim vindication. But there were signs of potential trouble to come. There are no hard statistics yet, but a massive number of voters appear to have had to sign affidavits -- a relatively simple procedure, but one that could cause problems in higher turnout elections. And of course, with one in ten Texans lacking ID by one estimate, it's all but impossible to measure the number of people who were deterred by the law from voting.
[A] huge number of voters -- disproportionately women, it appears -- had to sign affidavits just to cast a ballot. Marianna Cline, the election judge at Cochran's Houston precinct estimated that one in five voters there had to do so, thanks to name mismatches or similar discrepancies. An election clerk in San Antonio put the number at roughly one in three, Jonathan Bernstein of The Washington Post reported. And an election administrator in Fort Bend County put the number as high as 40%, The Texas Tribune reported.
Gabriella Lucero, 34, told msnbc that a worker at her Dallas polling place noticed a similar names mismatch, and told her she'd have to vote provisionally. To make her vote count, Lucero was told she'd need to go to a government office to get a state ID, and return within a week. Because she was departing for a business trip Wednesday morning, she left without voting.
“I was really upset when I got home,” said Lucero, who is Hispanic. “My rights were violated as a woman and as a minority.”