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Thanksgiving weekend voter ID update

Some statistics to throw some cold water on the claims that there were “no problems” with the voter ID law.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Delays at the polls this month due to glitches with voters’ identifications could signal a bigger problem to come next year, when many more turn out for state and county elections.

Thousands of voters had to sign affidavits or cast provisional ballots on Nov. 5 — the first statewide election held under the state’s new voter identification law — because their name on the voter rolls did not exactly match the name on their photo ID.

It took most only a short time, but election officials are concerned that a few minutes per voter to carefully check names and photos against voter registration cards, and then to have voters sign affidavits or fill out provisional paperwork, could snowball into longer waits and more frustration.

A review by The Dallas Morning News found that 1,365 provisional ballots were filed in the state’s 10 largest counties. In most of them, the number of provisional ballots cast more than doubled from 2011, the last similar election, to 2013.

Officials had no exact count for how many voters had to sign affidavits, but estimates are high. Among those who had to sign affidavits were the leading candidates for governor next year, Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis.

“If it made any kind of a line in an election with 6 percent [voter] turnout, you can definitely imagine with a 58 percent,” said Dallas County elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole.

In Dallas County, 13,903 people signed affidavits affirming their identity.


Harris County, the state’s largest, had 704 voters fill out provisional ballots. Of those, 105 were cast because the voter failed to show an acceptable photo ID.

That’s not a huge number of provisional ballots, but it’s still an increase, which is what we would expect if voter ID were having a negative effect on people’s ability to vote. Just imagine what the effect would have been if the amendment that Wendy Davis proposed to allow affidavits for “substantially similar” names had not been accepted. Information about provisional votes have never been public on the County Clerk website, so it’s good to have this here. I’d love to know what the cause of the 599 other provisional votes was.

Meanwhile, Sondra Haltom of Empower the Vote Texas writes on BOR about some real-life people who were directly affected by the law.

Meet Peggy: she’s 90 years old and a registered voter. She can’t get an ID because she doesn’t have her citizenship documentation. She came to the U.S. with her parents thru Ellis Island. She is a naturalized citizen. She doesn’t have the money to get the required documents. She missed the deadline to apply for a mail ballot, so she didn’t get to vote in the November election.

Or what about Alberta? She was born in Wyoming. She has a copy of her Wyoming birth certificate. She was married in Washington State. She has lost her marriage license and has not been able to get one so far from Washington State. She lived in Colorado for a while and is still using her Colorado driver’s license, which will not expire until 2015. She has been living in Texas recently and is registered to vote in Texas. She voted here in the 2012 election. She wants to continue to vote but has been told she cannot vote in Texas unless she gets a copy of her marriage certificate which will link her current name to the name on her birth certificate so she can get an allowable Texas photo ID.

Or Evelyn – She has been trying to get a Texas personal id so she can vote and fly. She has a birth certificate, Social Security card, proof of residency and unexpired Driver’s license from another state, but DPS won’t issue an id without her marriage license. The county where she was married can’t find her marriage license.

There will be a lot more stories like that if this law is still in effect for the 2014 general election. The trial is set for September, but first the court has to deal with a motion to dismiss from the state, to which the plaintiffs and DOJ responded last week. The briefs and a detailed overview of the arguments are all there, so go check them out.

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  1. Andrea says:

    Charles, does the count of 105 provisional ballots for Harris County mean that 105 people filled in a provisional ballot, or 105 filled one in AND showed up within the allowed number of days with the additional documentation required so that the ballots they cast were counted? Am I correct in thinking people have to show up after casting the provisional ballot in order to make it count? That seems like a ridiculous burden to impose.

  2. Andrea – The former. I have heard that only a handful – like, six or seven – people then came back to provide ID and make their ballot non-provisional. I don’t have any confirmed numbers on this. You are correct, people who would have to cast a provisional ballot after trying to vote without an accepted form of ID have to come back to a Tax Assessor office to show their ID within six days for it to count, and yes that is a substantial burden.

  3. Mainstream says:

    I don’t find these examples convincing, and to some degree these voters could vote with a little more organization or effort. The similar name affidavit process might have worked for one of them. All should qualify for a passport, which would have been sufficient ID. The 90 year old qualified to vote by mail early, if she had just signed and returned one of the many ballot by mail applications which the candidates all send out.

    Most provisional voters are folks who have moved and not updated their voting address for many years, and finally show up one year and find their name has been removed from the list, because their voter certificate was returned by the post office for three consecutive presidential elections. Some are folks who don’t realize that on election day you must vote in your home neighborhood, and stop in a voting place at the other end of the county 10 minutes before closing and are not on the voting roll for that neighborhood. I have even had a handful of folks walk in on election day unaware that there is a voter registration process, who assumed that because they are citizens and live nearby they would be allowed to vote without registering. A student at UH from Waco dropped in one year, assuming his Waco registration would be valid in Houston.

    The only ID related provisional voter I had this year was a longtime resident, a teacher, who lived six blocks from the polling station, and apparently drove to the polls, but somehow did not have her drivers license with her, and did not want to go home and get the ID.

  4. Ross says:

    Once again, the whiners opposed to having only qualified voters cast ballots provide lots of anecdotes, but no real evidence. Voting should be hard, you should have to think about what you are doing and be organized.

  5. Hobby Lobby says:

    No, voting should NOT be hard. Voting should be easy.

  6. Hobby Lobby says:

    And the place where real evidence is most lacking, is that there is a problem with non-qualified voters voting in the first place.

  7. Ross says:

    I don’t really care whether or not there is hard evidence of non-qualified voters voting. I want the voting system to be secure enough that no one can vote without proving who they are using a photo ID. The current voter cards are a joke, and worthless in terms of security.