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Voters? We don’t need no stinkin’ voters

Why recent changes to Texas election laws may unintentionally undermine voter turnout

by Daniel Carrico

The Texas Secretary of State is fighting to uphold Texas’s new voter photo identification law against federal scrutiny. The press has reported extensively on the battle brewing between the states and the United States Department of Justice over the impact that voter ID laws will have on voter turnout. Many groups believe that voter ID laws—which require persons to show photo ID before casting their votes—unfairly target minority voters, making it more difficult for them to participate in the democratic process. While the photo ID requirement is the most widely reported change to the Texas election process, it is not the only new roadblock likely to affect voter turnout in the Lone Star State’s upcoming elections.

New Burdens for Voluntary Deputy Voter Registrars

Earlier this year, the Texas legislature bolstered the requirements for persons wishing to serve as deputy voter registrars by passing House Bill 2194 and House Bill 1570.

In Texas, the voter registrar in each county may appoint one or more deputy registrars. Deputy registrars are volunteers who assist in the registration of voters. They distribute applications, help people fill out applications, and generally promote voter registration. Continue reading

When is state law not enforceable?

Texas awaits DOJ approval for its new voter photo ID law.

by Daniel Carrico

The battle over Texas’s controversial new voter identification bill should be over. Instead, it appears to be heating up.

Senate Bill 14 amends the Texas Election Code, requiring voters to present an approved form of photo identification to cast a ballot in state elections. Voters may rely on most forms of commonly-used government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Voters who are unwilling, or unable, to pay for identification are also covered; the bill creates a new form of identification called an “election identification certificate” which can be obtained at no cost from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Both the Texas House and Senate approved the bill and its photo identification requirements, following months of heated debate across the state. And, on May 27, Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law. Notwithstanding any post-enactment court challenges, gubernatorial endorsement is the final step in the legislative process—or at least that’s how things usually work in Texas. Continue reading

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