A restrictive voter identification law took effect in Texas yesterday – the same day that early voting for the state’s November 5 elections began – despite an ongoing lawsuit by the Department of Justice to stop it.
The law will require Texans to show one of a narrow list of acceptable government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. The list includes expired gun licenses from out of state, but does not allow voters to present student IDs or social security cards. These laws are enacted under the guise of protecting against voter fraud, which is extremely rare. In reality, they strip voting rights from students, women, people of color, and low-income voters who are less likely to have an eligible ID.
In an Op-Ed for MSNBC, Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal and Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine discussed how the war on voting is part of the war on women. “Given the potential impact of minority voters in the next election, and the persistence of a gender gap in voting that tends to favor progressive candidates, Republican-controlled state legislatures have resorted to using voting laws to dilute the voices of women and people of color,” they wrote.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice [PDF], 25 percent of eligible African-American voters, 18 percent of people aged 65 and up, and many students do not have a current government-issued photo ID card. In addition, 34 percent of women voters do not have an ID that reflects their current name.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 8/23/13; ThinkProgress 6/25/13, 10/21/13; MSNBC 10/19/13; Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law