“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by any State on account of sex.” That is the language of the 19th Amendment. And since its ratification in 1920, it has promised women unfettered access to the polls.
But who cares about consitutional rights when you’re trying to rig–I mean, run elections in Texas?
That’s my question for the recipient of this week’s letter: Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Dear Governor Perry,
It’s me, Melissa. We are getting to be regular pen pals! I hate to be a pest, but it seems my earlier letters didn’t sink in.
You remember the one in June about extending the Texas legislative session 30 days in order to push your anti-abortion agenda. Or maybe the one about watching out for the “Wendy Davis Express”–a gubernatorial campaign fueled by the women of the Lone Star State.
But maybe you did get that one, because your recent actions show that you don’t want those women at the polls.
It seems you started hatching a plan back in June when the Supreme Court ruled Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. This meant your state no longer has to get changes to voting laws pre-cleared by the federal government.
Just a few hours after the ruling, Texas State Attorney General Greg Abbott declared that the Texas voter-ID law would take effect immediately. It is a law that you have supported, lauding its necessity to combat voter impersonation saying:
“Texas has a responsibility to ensure elections are fair, beyond reproach and accurately reflect the will of the voters.”
Really, Governor? Because less than five voting impersonation complaints were filed with the Texas Attorney General’s office from the 2008 and 2010 general elections–in which more than 13 million people voted.
This week marked the first election under the new Texas voter-ID law and we are already seeing which big part of the Texas electorate will be affected again: women.
The requirement that a voter’s ID be “substantially similar” to their name on the voter registration rolls could create big problems for Texas women voters. Governor, do you know how hard it is to get your name changed on legal documents when you get married? Oh, wait–probably not, since you are a man who doesn’t have to worry about such things.
But a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that a third of all women have citizenship documents that do not match their curent legal name.
That includes Texas District Court Judge Sandra Watts, who found that the IDs she’s been using to vote for the last 52 years were suddenly not sufficient. On top of that, between 600,000 to 800,000 of registered Texas voters do not have the necessary government ID to vote.
But before a voter can get the ID they have to have the documents confirming their identity. The cheapest document is a birth certificate at $22–that’s not pocket change. And 81 of your 254 counties don’t even have a DMV office. Some residents have to drive 250 miles to get to the closest location.
So Governor, the question has to be asked–are you protecting the will of the voters or your party’s political interests? You know since Attorney General Greg Abbott, the same one who couldn’t wait to enact the voter-ID law is the one running against Wendy Davis.
But the rest of us are not going to sit by idly and let your attorney general become the Governor of the Great State of Suppression. That is why the nation’s attorney general is coming for that law. He’s filed suit under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act arguing that your voter-ID law is discriminatory.
So here’s your homework, Governor Perry (and I am not even assigning you to read my letters): it is time to hone your study of the Constitution. My suggestion? Start with the 19th Amendment. Oh, yeah–and the 15th ain’t bad, either. Call if you need a tutor, we in #nerdland are happy to help.