Friday, October 31, 2014

Texas Vote ID Law

Texas Governor Rick Perry signed SB14 into law in the summer of 2014. The new law was struck down as an unconstitutional poll tax by federal judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, then upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. In an unexpected move, the Supreme Court ruled that the new voter ID restrictions can be exercised and applied during the 2014 midterm elections.

This misbegotten law has served to lock out about 600,000 people in Texas, preventing them from exercising their voting privileges. Many residents live in poverty. To obtain one of the six forms of acceptable I.D., they would have to spend money they don't have, take a day off of work and visit their Department of Public Safety to obtain an Election Identification Certificate or EIC.

Think about the roadblocks that Texas residents face in getting an EIC. Eric Kennie is one of these Austin residents. He collects recyclables for a living. At the end of an average month, he earns a little more than $620.00. What forms of ID does he have?

º Personal photo ID that expired in 2000
º His voter registration card

Because neither of these is an acceptable form of identification that would enable him to obtain an EIC, he won't be voting on November 4. Well then, what about his birth certificate? That won't work either because his birth certificate lists him as "Eric Caruthers," not Eric Kennie. "Caruthers" is his mother's maiden name.

What's more, Kennie has never even left Austin, his hometown. He has never driven. He has never held a U.S. passport. He has never been in the military.

Texas residents trying to obtain their EICs so they can comply with the law and vote are also faced with some considerable hurdles. If they don't own a car, they have to take a bus from their home to a DPS office. They have to wait for their turn – and hope that the forms of ID they have brought with them will be acceptable.

In a real statement of irony, this law, which by the way, is the strictest voter ID law in the country, would have forced Kennie to use the identity on his birth certificate. That action would defeat the "purpose" of this law, which is supposed to defeat voter fraud at the polls. Kennie won't vote this year. Once the election is over, he will resume his fight to obtain an acceptable form of photo ID.

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