Former Rep. Jim Wright (D-TX), who served as Speaker of the House from 1987 to 1989, this weekend became the latest prominent Texan to nearly lose his right to vote thanks to the state’s new strict voter ID law.
Wright told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that he couldn’t get an ID because he only had an expired driver’s license (Wright is 90) and a faculty ID card from Texas Christian University, neither of which qualify under Texas’ new law. Wright plans to return to the office Monday with a certified copy of his birth certificate, which will allow him to get an ID. But, the long-time voting rights advocate told the Star-Telegram, not everyone will be able to meet those qualifications, meaning the law will almost surely depress turnout in Tuesday’s state and local elections.
“I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won’t dramatically reduce the number of people who vote,” Wright told the Star-Telegram. “I think they will reduce the number to some extent.”
In recent weeks, the Texas law has ensnared a Texas district judge, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, a state senator, and Greg Abbott, the very attorney general pushing the law. It’s strict name requirements has made it especially hard for women to obtain an ID, since differences between maiden names and married names has caused problems. Abbott’s ID was nearly denied because his given name is Gregory but he used “Greg” on his registration card.
The law also threatens minority and low-income voters, who are less likely to have acceptable forms of identification. Academic studies have shown that to be the case in many of the other states that have instituted voter ID laws in the past. One 84-year-old woman was denied an ID three times. As Republicans continue to push these laws, though, they have struggled to find examples of the actual voter fraud they are supposed to stop.
Texas’ law is more restrictive than most. Any prospective voter without a valid photo ID has to prove citizenship with a birth certificate or passport, plus two other forms of ID, like an expired drivers license or Social Security card, to obtain a voting ID.