Dallas County, TX taxpayers alone have spent hundreds of thousands thanks to the law, and may have to spend much more
GOP County Commissioner accidentally calls it a 'problem'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2014, 1:27pm PT  

Completely unnecessary polling place Photo ID restrictions enacted by so-called "small government conservatives" are costing taxpayers more and more big government money every day.

In Dallas County, Texas, for example, where County Commissioners are wrestling with the Republican-enacted state law to restrict which legal voters will be allowed to vote, hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been allocated to try and help legally registered voters retain their right to vote in the upcoming March primary election, according to the Dallas Morning News. And it looks like they will have to spend still more.

The cost of "small government conservatism" to taxpayers continues to mount in the Lone Star State, on outreach to voters and administrative necessities, as well as the cost of defending the voting restrictions in state and federal court...

The state restriction on legal voters, enacted by TX Attorney General (and 2014 Gubernatorial candidate) Greg Abbot just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the federal Voting Rights Act last Summer, is being challenged by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, as well as by Dallas County itself, which has joined the federal suit against the state.

The law had been blocked several times after being found in violation of the Voting Rights Act over recent years, before SCOTUS gutted that part of the nearly 50-year old landmark statute. During previous VRA hearings on the law, however, the federal courts also noted that TX' version also appeared to violate the U.S. Constitution, as we detailed last year. With that in mind, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning has argued that the latest federal legal challenge to TX' voting restrictions will result in Constitutional problems for the state law. (To date, we should note, Canning's record has been spot on in regard to other legal predictions related to Photo ID restrictions elsewhere.)

To be clear (since proponents of these laws like to ignore this point), like the majority of the states in the country, Texas already had reasonable Voter ID restrictions in place (as does the National Voter Registration Act), before they changed the law to limit the type of IDs that may be used for voting. For example, a state-issued concealed handgun permit is now allowed for voting purposes, but a state-issued student ID is not, for some reason. The problem, as usual, is not requiring some form of ID to register and/or vote, it's the requirement for very specific types of Photo IDs that millions of (largely Democratic-leaning) voters simply do not already own. In Texas, additional problems are related to the new ban on expired drivers licenses and the requirement for an exact name match between allowable Photo IDs and the voter's registration record.

But until all the legal challenges are resolved one way or another, Dallas County Commissioners are worried about some 195,000 legal, registered voters they've been able to identify in their county alone who may have trouble voting in next month's primary. To date, the Commission has approved spending $275,000 to join the federal lawsuit against TX, and they have had to allocate another $145,000 for voter outreach to try and alert those whose IDs don't match identically with their voter registration that they may have a problem voting this year.

"The first major mailing, sent on Jan. 24 at a cost of $79,000," according to the Morning News, "focused on name discrepancies that voters might have between their photo ID and the voter registration database. Such complications are more common among women, who are more likely to have changed their last names."

The paper says that, according to officials, "By Friday afternoon, more than 14,000 voters had responded to the letter and updated their name in the voter registration database" But, they add, "that means many more of the 195,000 with potential name problems haven't responded."

This week, the Commissioners will consider a new proposal "to spend up to an additional $165,000 on efforts to resolve voters' complications with improper photo ID and name discrepancies between required forms of identification."

The Commission is made up of elected officials, all of whom are Democrats, except for the one lone Republican, Mike Cantrell, who opposed the County joining the federal lawsuit last year and, according to the Dallas Morning News this week, is concerned about the new County proposal to spend more money on expanded voter outreach.

"We're not Washington," Cantrell told the paper. "We can't keep just throwing money at the problem."

"Problem?" Um, what "problem", Mr. Cantrell? Your "small government" party has told Americans that polling place Photo ID restrictions were the solution, not the problem. What "problem" could you possibly be thinking of?

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