Election office in Texas’ 2nd-largest county misinforming voters about photo ID

The state’s voter ID law was actually struck down in July.

CREDIT: Ari Berman
CREDIT: Ari Berman

Thanks to a recent federal court ruling, Texans who cannot reasonably obtain photo ID no longer have to show such ID when voting. But you wouldn’t know that from looking at false information prominently displayed on Bexar County property.

According to Ari Berman, an author and reporter who focuses on voting rights, the following incorrect information is displayed in a Bexar County elections office:

As ThinkProgress has previously reported, thanks to the federal ruling, registered Texas voters no longer need to bring an ID to cast a ballot. Instead, they can “present a valid voter registration certificate, a certified birth certificate, a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a paycheck, or any other government document that displays the voter’s name and address” so long as they “sign a reasonable impediment declaration” — a document stating they were not reasonably able to obtain the forms of ID mandated by the state’s now-invalidated ID law.

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Berman told ThinkProgress that the incorrect information is displayed on a large poster at the entrance to the Bexar County office. But he said materials behind a desk in the office contain accurate info, and workers told him they plan to swap out the inaccurate poster sometime soon.

Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn F. Callanen didn’t respond to a ThinkProgress voicemail seeking comment. With more than 1.8 million residents, her county is the second most populous county in Texas and the seventh largest in the United States. It’s also much bluer than most of Texas. Though Mitt Romney won the state by a 16 points in 2012, Bexar, which encompasses San Antonio, went for Obama by a 5-point margin.

ThinkProgress has previously documented how voter suppression laws like the one Texas previously had on the books can skew elections:

Laws requiring voters to show photo ID in order to vote do create an obstacle to the franchise that is particularly likely to impact racial minorities, low-income voters, students and other groups that tend to prefer Democrats to Republicans. Data journalist Nate Silver estimated that voter ID could “reduce President Obama’s margin against Mitt Romney by a net of 1.2 percentage points.” A more recent study found even starker results, determining that “Democratic turnout drops by an estimated 8.8 percentage points in general elections when strict photo identification laws are in place,” as opposed to just 3.6 percentage points for Republicans.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion accusing Texas officials of instructing voters and poll workers that someone without photo ID cannot vote unless it is literally impossible for them to obtain that ID — a misstatement that would violate a federal court order. In a response filed Monday, Texas officials — including Attorney General Ken Paxton — argue that DOJ officials rely “on selected statements” to support this allegation, although a quote Texas provides in an attempt to rebut DOJ’s claims still incorrectly states that a voter may only vote without ID if they “cannot obtain” such ID.

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The last time Texas went for a Democrat in a presidential election was when Jimmy Carter carried the state in 1976, but a recent Washington Post poll that found Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a dead heat indicates the Lone State’s politics may be shifting. Other polls have Trump leading in Texas by about a half-dozen points.

UPDATE

The Texas Secretary of State’s office says it has now sent accurate posters to the counties:

Early Thursday, ThinkProgress received the following email from Alicia Phillips Pierce, communications director for the Texas secretary of state:

As you may know, the Secretary of State’s office has updated the poster and sent to counties. While we do not have enforcement authority over counties, we can advise and remind them of election law and policies. My understanding is that Bexar county is taking care of the situation.