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Texas’s voter ID law took effect Monday, as voting in the first Texas election since five Republican justices killed a key prong of the Voting Rights Act also began this week. By conservative estimates, this voter suppression law will prevent 2 to 3 percent of registered voters from casting a ballot, with left-leaning constituencies such as women, students, low-income voters and people of color all feeling a disproportionate share of this blow.
Voter ID’s defenders often point to the fact that states that have enacted these voter suppression laws typically offer free IDs to voters who can jump through certain bureaucratic hoops necessary to obtain one as evidence that the laws will not actually have a significant negative impact on voters, but the data in Texas suggests that these free IDs will do little to mitigate the impact of the law. Despite an estimated 1.4 million voters in Texas who lack a photo ID, Texas has issued only 41 free ID cards since last week.