With the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act over the summer, Texas immediately imposed a radically unnecessary voter-ID law, intended to combat voter fraud that doesn't exist. The new law is currently facing its first hands-on test -- the early-voting process is now underway in the Lone Star State, forcing voters to show identification that they were never forced to show before.
It's not off to a good start. We talked two weeks ago about Texas Judge Sandra Watts, who's voted in every election for nearly five decades, but who nevertheless ran into trouble in October -- her driver's license lists her maiden name as her middle name, while her voter registration uses her actual middle name.
She's not the only notable official having trouble. The same misguided policy has also tripped up a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Former House Speaker Jim Wright was denied a voter ID card Saturday at a Texas Department of Public Safety office. "Nobody was ugly to us, but they insisted that they wouldn't give me an ID," Wright said.
Wright, a political legend in Texas who is now 90, went to receive an official Election Identification Certificate, bringing with him a driver's license and a faculty ID from Texas Christian. But because Wright's driver's license had expired, the local office turned him down, refusing to provide him with an ID that would allow him to vote. He worked things out by finding a copy of his birth certificate.
But as Wright told the Star Telegram, Texas has clearly made things vastly more difficult for voters, who may get too discouraged to bother. "I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won't dramatically reduce the number of people who vote," the former Speaker said.
ThinkProgress' Aviva Shen, meanwhile, reports that even state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), who's championed Texas' voter-ID law, ran into trouble because his driver's license lists his name as "Gregory Wayne Abbott" while his voter-registration record says "Greg Abbott."
Just to reiterate a relevant detail, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder launched a challenge against the Texas law in August, though the law remains in place as the litigation process continues.