I know, I’m as shocked as you are.
As many as a quarter of voters in some small Texas counties might not be able to cast ballots if the federal government allows the new state voter ID law to go into effect.
And in some places, the potential for that decrease in the number of voters could affect the outcome of elections.
The impact of the law was gleaned from several pages of data that the Texas secretary of state’s office provided to the U.S. Department of Justice, which is reviewing the law to determine whether it illegally hurts minority voters.
The data show that in 27 of Texas’ 254 counties, at least 10 percent of the registered voters might be unable to cast ballots, if Senate Bill 14 by Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, takes effect.
New flash #2: This is a feature, not a bug. If the law gets preclearance, it will do exactly what the Republicans who have been relentlessly pushing it intend for it to do. Not that they’re honest enough to admit it, of course.
Late last month, the Justice Department postponed its decision on pre-clearance. It asked the state for more information about voters. In particular, the department wanted more information on more than 600,000 registered voters whose names don’t appear in Texas databases of people with valid driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards.
Rich Parsons, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, urged caution in interpreting the numbers. He said at least some of the 600,000 people in question might have what they need to vote.
“It is very possible they have one of the permissible forms of ID as required by Senate Bill 14,” Parsons said. “But we don’t know.”
The data show a potentially serious situation in Presidio County in Southwest Texas.
There, as many as 25.9 of registered voters might not have the required photo ID to cast ballots. If the new law were to take effect, as many as 1,313 out of 5,066 registered voters might be unable to vote.
State Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring , who sponsored the voter ID legislation in the House, discounted the possibility that her measure would diminish some people’s votes — even in Presidio County. “I don’t think this, in any way, is going to disenfranchise anyone,” she said.
Harless said most of the people not found in DPS files would be able to vote. Maybe their licenses and voter ID cards are different because one has a maiden name and the other has a married name.
Rep. Harless, meet Dorothy Cooper. If you believe that her experience in Tennessee will not happen to people here, you are at best tragically naive. It’s clear that the Secretary of State cannot answer the questions that the DOJ has raised about this law and its obviously retrogressive effects on voting rights. The only acceptable solution is to deny it preclearance.