WASHINGTON, DC — Texas Attorney General Greb Abbott (R) dismissed concerns that his state’s new voter ID law could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Texans, predicting instead that it will lead to an increase in voter turnout.
As many as 800,000 Texans currently lack a driver’s license or personal identification card. The likelihood that a Latino voter won’t have the necessary photo ID is as much double that of a non-Latino. Because of this disproportionate effect on Hispanic voters, the Justice Department blocked the Texas’ voter ID law under the Voting RIghts Act.
In an interview with ThinkProgress last week, Abbott dismissed these concerns, arguing instead that no one will be disenfranchised because of voter ID. Abbott went further, insisting that with voter ID in place, turnout will actually increase in Texas.
KEYES: Do you think that goal will be achieved that no one will be disenfranchised with the voter ID law?
ABBOTT: I do believe that both the safeguards and the structure put in place by Texas will ensure that it achieves the same thing that was achieved by Georgia and Indiana, and that is after these laws were implemented, you actually saw an increase in voter participation as opposed to a decrease.
Voter ID doesn’t just discriminate against racial minorities. It also hurts poor people and those who live in rural areas. First, for people who lack an official photo ID, obtaining one in order to vote is an unconstitutional poll tax. One such individual is Jessica Cohen, whose story ThinkProgress documented in November. After she lost her identification during a robbery, the only way to get a voter ID was to pay a fee to Missouri officials in order to obtain her birth certificate.
In addition, rural folks are hit disproportionately hard by a voter ID requirement. For many people living in rural west Texas, for instance, the nearest ID office is as much as 100 miles away. That barrier is all the more difficult because people who lack ID by definition don’t have a driver’s license. Unable to obtain a photo ID, they would be stripped of their voting rights under the state’s voter ID law.
It’s not difficult to see why hundreds of thousands would likely be disenfranchised in Texas if voter ID were reinstated. What is difficult to see is precisely how a major new barrier to voting will result in more Texans being able to vote, as Abbott asserts.
To learn more about voter ID and other suppression efforts, read CAP’s new report on recent attacks on voting rights across the country.