The polling place Photo ID voting restriction enacted by Republicans in Texas has been repeatedly found in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Most recently, late last year, a federal judge found, after a full trial on the merits of the law, that the restrictive statute "creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose." U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos went on to note in her 147-page ruling [PDF] that the law also "constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax."
Based on evidence from the state examined at trial, the law could serve to disenfranchise as many as 600,000 already legally registered voters in the state, not to mention more than a million eligible voters in Texas over all.
Naturally, Texas Republicans who currently run the state are appealing that ruling. Not because they have been able to demonstrate any actual "voter fraud" that might have been deterred by their restrictions, but because, with rapidly changing voter demographics in the Lone Star State, keeping legal voters (specifically, those that tend to lean towards Democrats) from being able to cast their otherwise legal vote has become a top priority for the GOP if they hope to keep their stranglehold on political power there in coming decades.
With all of that in mind --- including the existing law having been found in violation of both federal law and the U.S. Constitution --- state Republicans are hoping to make the law even more restrictive, and last week in the state House, the GOP passed another law to make it even more difficult for certain people to vote...
"Woah! TX GOPers want to make their voter ID law --- already struck down as racially discriminatory --- even stricter," tweeted MSNBC's Zach Roth who brought this item from the Texas Observer, explaining HB 1096, to our attention this morning:
House Bill 1096, by Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston), would require the address on a voter's approved ID, such as a driver's license, to match their voter registration address. Currently voter ID addresses and voter registration addresses do not have to match.
If a voter registrar believes a voter's residence is different from that indicated on registration records, the registrar may send the voter a residence confirmation notice. Voters can respond by submitting a signed response confirming their residence.
Under HB 1096, voters would have to provide "evidence" that their residence address matches their voter ID.
Critics argue that requiring voters to have updated addresses on their IDs would be another burden on poor and minority voters, who move often and tend to vote for Democrats.
"Currently no one is being denied the right to vote because they just moved," said Texas Democratic Party Executive Committee Member Glen Maxey. "This bill would change that. Despite the rhetoric about voter integrity, efforts like HB 1096 are simply an exercise in voter suppression. Some people are trying to kick certain people off voter rolls who don't look like them."
Maxey says that HB 1096, just like the 2011 voter ID law, targets poor, minority, elderly and disabled Texans.
"In America you think that every citizen would be eligible to vote, even people who move a lot," Maxey said. "Texas is going the opposite way. If you're not smart enough, or with it enough to know you need the right address on your driver's license to vote, then fuck you."
Good point. Suggestion for a new state motto: "Texas - Fuck You!"
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)