Stupid is As Stupid Does: Texas and its Voter ID Law

The Curmudgeon has railed in the past about voter ID laws and he’ll spare you yet another dose of his righteous indignation.

You’re welcome.

He would, though, like to point out how those laws, aside from being wrong-headed, sometimes just don’t work very well, not even as their writers intended, and for a few examples he’d like to look to the not-so-great state of Texas, about which The Curmudgeon also has written in the past.  (See here and here.)

Like its government, most of its leaders, and so many of its people, Texas’s voter ID laws are a bit… defective.  Want proof?  Consider this.

Jim Wright, the former speaker of the House – of the U.S. House of Representatives, the third-highest office in the land – had trouble getting the appropriate identification he needed to vote in last month’s election.  Why?  Well, he’s nearly ninety years old, and in good news for the people who live near him, he doesn’t drive anymore, so he no longer has a valid driver’s license.  He still teaches at Texas Christian University, but his faculty ID card doesn’t meet the state law’s requirements.  So when Wright showed up to get a voter ID card recently he was told “No way, Jose.”  Instead, he had to dig up his birth certificate, which he was fortunate enough to have.  He also was fortunate enough to have an aide to do that digging for him.

Just like all old people do.

top-10-stupid-lawsBut Wright wasn’t the only big-name victim in Texas.

State senator Wendy Davis, who became famous this summer for her filibuster of an anti-abortion bill in Texas and is now considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to run for governor of the state, was forced to sign an affidavit so she could vote in the last election.  Her crime?  Her driver’s license has her maiden name as her middle name and voter registration records omit the middle name.  So it wasn’t her, wasn’t the real Wendy Davis, the election people insisted, and they tried to prevent her from voting.

They failed.

And before all you liberals start to see a conservative conspiracy to prevent Democrats from voting – we’ve already established that conspiracy, though, haven’t we? – Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican attorney general and one of the leading forces behind Texas’s voter ID law as well as Wendy Davis’s likely opponent in the next race for governor, also had trouble voting.  Why?  Because his formal identification all uses Gregory but on the voter registration rolls he’s listed as Greg, the name he uses professionally.  (Just like James Carter used Jimmy, or former Pennsylvania governor Richard Thornburgh used Dick.  We live in informal times.)

And then there’s the case of Texas district judge Sandra Watts, who’s been voting for nearly half a century.  She was almost turned away at the polls for the same reason as Wendy Davis:  a driver’s license that lists her maiden name as her middle name but a voter registration record that uses her actual middle name.  In this case, what served as adequate identification for forty-eight years for Her Honor was deemed inadequate in year forty-nine.  Fortunately for Judge Watts she’s a lawyer and figured out how to work out this problem.

Just like all the other old and poor Texans being turned away at the polls.

So it turns out that in addition to passing stupid laws, it looks like Texas is too stupid even to get those stupid laws right.

Way to go, Texas.

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