Texas’ onerous and unnecessary voter-ID law has already caused all kinds of problems in the Lone Star State, and since it was Republican policymakers who pushed the measure in the first place, it stands to reason they’d be held responsible for the troubles. But in a curious twist, they’re actually trying to blame gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis (D).
Keith Ingram, Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) hand-picked choice to serve as the state’s director of elections, recently made the case that state Sen. Davis pushed a provision onto the state law that “required persons whose name was not an exact match but was ‘substantially similar’ to sign an affidavit that they were the same person and be allowed to cast a ballot.”
And that, Ingram and Texas Republicans argue, is the source of the current voting difficulties for so many Texans.
MSNBC’s Zachary Roth took a closer look and concluded, “It’s hard to conceive of a more deliberately misleading way of describing the situation.”
Until Republicans passed a voter ID law, known as SB-14, in 2011, photo ID wasn’t required, so the issue of mismatched names didn’t arise. The law as drafted by Republicans provided no recourse for the massive number of voters – often married or divorced women – with slightly mismatched names. That raised the very real concern that people in Calhoun’s position could be barred from casting a regular ballot.
As a result, Davis sponsored an amendment to allow voters with mismatched names to cast a regular ballot, after signing an affidavit. It passed unanimously. Texas’ election this month showed the value of Davis’ measure: Some precincts reported that as many as one in five voters or more had to sign the affidavit because of name mismatches. Both Davis herself, and her likely GOP opponent in next year’s governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott, had to do so.
In other words, it’s true that Davis was responsible for the affidavit. But the letter’s clear implication is that without Davis’ measure, Calhoun and other voters with mismatched names could have voted with no problem. In fact, they might well have been barred from voting entirely.
I can appreciate why Texas Republicans would want to blame Davis for voting problems they created, but in this case, there’s no reason to take the complaints seriously.