Vote suppression watch: In Texas, women's votes imperiled | Arkansas Blog

Vote suppression watch: In Texas, women's votes imperiled

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DEJA VU: In Texas, a problem for women voters. But Arkansas apparently is OK. For now. - WIKIPEDIA
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  • DEJA VU: In Texas, a problem for women voters. But Arkansas apparently is OK. For now.

Women of my political bent are feverishly circulating news reports about a Texas gambit in the Republican drive to suppress voting by the wrong sorts of people.

The latest maneuver is a just-discovered twist that could disqualify many Texas women voters whose names have changed because of marriage or divorce since they originally registered

Though the law requires that names on both the [voter's] identification card and the voter registration card be “substantially similar,” if a person’s name doesn’t match exactly they will still have an opportunity to vote. In that case, voters are required to sign an affidavit affirming they are who they claim, which is then noted in the poll book.

A “substantially similar” name, Pierce says, could include a nickname, a maiden name, and or suffix such as “junior.” If the poll worker finds that the name is dissimilar, a voter can file a provisional ballot and present updated information within six days of the election.

“In a perfect world, you would update your voter registration card regularly to match any identification that you plan to use,” Pierce said.

State officials downplay fallout. They'll be endeavoring to avoid problems, they say. The proof of that will be how many voters for whom the affidavit isn't accepted, but a provisional ballot is required and thus a second trip to vote.

In the real world, people register to vote and don't update their registration forms. A female Texas judge has made national news for being denied a  vote after 52 years because her ID didn't match her original voter registration filing.She can get back to a courthouse in six days. But this is exactly the roadblock thrown up for poor people by the Voter ID law in general. No photo ID and no vote, except a provisional ballot. If you can dig up a valid ID from the list and get a ride to the county clerk's office a second time, maybe then your vote will count. For a lot of people, this isn't easy.

The fear is that a lot of Texas women's votes won't count next year. That won't displease Republicans, creators of voter ID laws, given the gender gap.

The good news: Though Republicans have passed an unconstitutional voter ID law in Arkansas (and it will shortly be challenged in court), they haven't made it as bad as Texas' law. Yet.

The Arkansas law does not require that names on the legal ID and the voter registration be the same. The election judge need only be satisfied that the person proffering the ID is the person who is registered. Nor do the administrative rules require such a match. There's one exception. In the case of early voting, where the names differ, the voter will be asked to fill out a new voter registration card on the spot. The Arkansas law also does not currently require a match between addresses. In fact, no address is required on some of the forms of acceptable ID. Again, there's an exception — on absentee ballots. A copy of ID with a mailing address must be included with absentee ballots. If the addresses don't match with voter registration cards, the ballots will be uncounted, I'm told by Susan Inman, a former member of the state board of Election Commissioners. She's a Democratic candidate for secretary of state.

Alex Reed of the secretary of state's office said the office hopes to do all it can to educate voters about the new requirements to minimize voting disruptiions. No paid publicity campaign is planned, however. It might be for naught anyway. Look to the Texas effort to inform people about new voter restrictions:

The state has implemented extended hours and deployed mobile units to make getting election ID easier. Yet, as of last week, just 41 people across the state had been issued with the cards, the Dallas Morning News reports. An estimated 1.4 million eligible voters in the state do not have the proper IDs to vote.


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