voter suppression

VOTER IDThe green envelope in the photo is only one of 12 new forms necessary to qualify Texas voters (or make their vote “provisional” if they don’t have identical photo ID).

Yesterday I was an elections judge on the Northside suburbs of San Antonio (read: big houses). This was not a heavy voting day, since there were no candidates on the ballot, so the polls were visited primarily by the faithful. Still, it provided insights into what we can look forward to in the future. The time spent with almost each voter was longer than usual. I spent the entire day comparing people’s picture ID’s with the voter rolls, and explaining that the law requires EXACT match of names. Many women had mismatches regarding their married/maiden names, and the guys had “Jr.” or abbreviation aberrations.

Since they were from the suburbs, they came by car and had driver’s licenses. Most supported the voter ID requirements, and were willing to take the extra time to fill out the forms to change the voter registration listing to match their driver’s license. Ironically, their steadfast support for “eliminating fraud” eroded rapidly as their own legitimacy was questioned.

The light turnout gave me the opportunity to talk with the other poll workers and voters who supported the voter ID law. As for Jim Wright (who was denied an identity card), they said “As an elected official he should have known better” and when I asked what seniors in nursing homes should do they just said “well, that might be a problem” but perhaps if they took a bus together to the DPS to get ID cards that would be best. When I mentioned that they’d need an original copy of a birth certificate, I once more got “well, that might be a problem.” Yes, indeed, I think we should all anticipate many such problems.

The voter suppression laws are popping up everywhere, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), the aspiring Governor, wasted no time jumping on the bandwagon once the Supremes gutted the Voting Rights Act. There are many good groups aware of the problems and trying to stop the Voter ID laws, but the bandwagon has become a bullet train and I’m not sure even throwing our bodies on the tracks will be enough to stop it.

So, the new Voter ID laws not only signal to those without photo ID that they should just not bother to vote, but once there, everybody gets to spend more up-close personal time with election judges, with your identity being scruitinized. I estimate that even if everybody comes to the polls this coming March for the primaries with photo ID, whatever time they waited in the past will be at least doubled.

Fellow Texans, be sure to thank Governor Perry and his elephant friends for the extra time you’ll get to spend with your neighbors next election day. For the rest of you, don’t bother waiting up for the results from the Lone Star state.

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Suz Korbel

Suz Korbel

Graduating in '71 from Cornell gave me a few unencumbered years of protesting, followed by 4 happy hipster grad student/worker years at U of Michigan, completing a Ph.D. in public administration. Followed a comedian to San Francisco, then my heart to Austin Texas to learn the TV business, dabbled in hot&heavy politics in DC, and returned to Austin & San Antonio, Texas to hone my political/media skills. I make my money conducting consumer and political opinion studies.