Thanks to Texas’s strict voter ID law, the number of disenfranchised voters has surged in the state.
As Texas prepares for its first high-turnout election with the voter ID law in place, the state has scrambled to reassure residents that it’s being proactive in getting IDs to those who need them, and that few voters will ultimately be disenfranchised. But those claims are belied by continued reports of legitimate Texans who, despite often Herculean efforts, still lack the identification required to exercise their most fundamental democratic right.
The U.S. Justice Department announced Monday that it will send election monitors to the Houston area, as well as Waller County, Texas and 26 other counties across the country, to protect access to the ballot.
Next to Gonzales sat Adam Alkhafaji, a student at the University of Houston, who turned 18 in September and was excited to vote for the first time. But to prove his residency and get a Texas ID, he needed a residential housing agreement, a birth certificate, and a Social Security card, none of which he had. Overwhelmed with school, he ran out of time. “It’s almost like a milestone in your life: You take your first steps, then you get your driver’s license, and then you exercise your right to vote,” Alkhafaji said. “I’m more than disappointed.”
The law in Texas, passed by Republicans in 2011, is the strictest in the nation. It does not allow student IDs, but does allow concealed handgun permits.
Other states have passed ID laws in recent years but the highest-profile ID measures, aside from the one in Texas, won’t be in effect this year. Wisconsin’s voter ID law was blocked by the Supreme Court, which decided that it was put into effect too close to this year’s election.
Voters in North Carolina, which also passed similar measures, won’t see changes go into effect until 2016.
This is a disgrace.
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