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Turning Texas is a group electoral clearinghouse for Democratic races in the Lone Star State. That means Wendy Davis and every other Texas race. We welcome all contributors with an interest in and knowledge about Texas electoral politics.
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Tuesday's dry run of the Texas Voter ID law is proving to be exactly what had been predicted in the media and by electoral watchdog groups for some time now: the burden falls largely on women.

Before Tuesday the argument was anecdotal, based on instances like Wendy Davis and others having to sign affidavits in order to cast a ballot during early voting.

With reports from County Elections starting to dribble in, we now know those anecdotes reflect our new electoral reality at the polls. Women are being forced to affirm their identities to the State, in order to exercise their Constitutional right to vote, in disproportionate numbers.

Jump the fancy longhorns for more...


HOUSTON – For years, Stephanie Cochran has voted without any problems. But when she went to the polls Tuesday in her upscale, diverse neighborhood here, things went a lot less smoothly—thanks to Texas’ strict new voter ID law.

On the voter rolls, she’s listed as Stephanie Gilardo Cochran, while on her driver’s license, she’s Stephanie G. Cochran—a mismatch common to married or divorced women including Wendy Davis, the likely Democratic candidate for governor next year. As a result, Cochran faced what she described as a barrage of questions from poll workers about the discrepancy.

In the end, Cochran was able to vote by signing an affidavit in which she swore, on penalty of perjury, that she was who she claimed to be. But the experience left her angry: She told msnbc that she sees the law as an attempt to keep women from the polls.

“It’s against us,” Cochran said. “It’s to keep us from voting for Wendy.”

This has been the rallying cry on the Left against Voter ID for some time. It is an article of faith among Texas Democrats that disenfranchising women was the intent of the legislation. While proving this would require a public admission by the bill's authors, hard evidence now shows that regardless of intent the result bears this out.

An idea that is often poo-pooed in the media, it is a common casualty of both false equivalence and of an affinity for giving the benefit of the doubt to Republicans even when not due (as if it ever is). A great example of the phenomenon occurred this morning on a weekly KUT public radio segment delivered by The Austin American-Statesman and Masters of False Equivalence  Politifact titled Smoking out voting claims.

In their jocular and sometimes snide style, the segment gave a "Pants on Fire" rating to the notion because a) the bill was written before Davis was a candidate and b) The Democratic Governors Association press release that most notably broadcast the claim could not offer proof.

To our request for backup information, an association spokesman, Danny Kanner, emailed us links to a news article and commentary, both published in October 2013, and to a 2006 report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.The articles touched on the possibility that photo IDs presented by women at the polls might not have the same names on them as voter records. None reached conclusions about a link between the 2011 law and Davis garnering votes for governor in 2014.
The Brennan Study, updated as of 2012, pretty much forecast what happened last night in Texas: women were disproportionally affected because of maiden name changes and divorce. Their male counterparts in the voting booth were far less affected. So, while Politifact and AAS wage war on the Dem Gov Assn for their "claims" that can't possibly be backed up by "fact", the net result is exactly what they claimed it would be. It is hard for me to buy that Texas Republicans, who can also (surprisingly) read, would not see these reports and salivate at the thought. Surely I digress.

Meanwhile, back in the precincts, the real life proof is in the numbers:

Election officials from some of the state's 10 most populous counties said there were few instances in which voters were unable to cast their ballots or had to cast provisional ballots because of questions about their ID. Still, because of the new law, thousands of voters were required to sign affidavits affirming their identity before voting.
And how many people are we talking about here?
John Oldham, the elections administrator in Fort Bend County, estimated that at least 40 percent of early voters in his county signed affidavits -- often a result of discrepancies between a voter's name on his or her photo ID and in the voter registry.  "We have not been made aware of any provisional ballots for photo ID," Oldham said.  

In Travis County, about 20 percent of the nearly 32,000 individuals who cast ballots during early voting had to sign affidavits because of the same discrepancy, said Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir.

"We think most of the people who had those issues were women," DeBeauvoir said.   Many voting rights advocates worried that the law would particularly affect women, who often change their names after marriage or divorce.

40% and 20% are hardly a pittance. Comparatively speaking, for an off year election, these numbers may seem low. But 2013 is a dry run for 2014, when a Democratic woman (who had to sign a promise to the state that she wasn't a lying vote fraudster) is challenging a Republican man for the Executive office. That is what Democrats have been saying, and that is what many (myself included) believe is the motivation behind the legislation.

WaPo GovBeat had a great post about the reasons why women are affected more than men. It is worth looking at their findings beyond marriage and divorce to get a broader sense of context. Here are the other factors at play for women voters.:

The Poor:
The cost of birth certificates, often required to obtain identification, and the IDs themselves can be a burden; having to travel, and perhaps miss work, is another hurdle to getting an ID.
Plus women are more likely to be poor than men. How is Texas doing on women and poverty? Not so good
Women in poverty: 19%
Poverty rate: 17.9%
Extreme poverty rate: 7.4%
Asset poverty rate: 25.9%
Participants in all Head Start programs: 93,132
Number of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP: 4,444,025
Number of women and children receiving WIC (Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program): 969,893
The AARP says as many as one in five seniors lacks a current government-issued photo identification. In 2006, as many as 8 million people over the age of 65 didn’t have an identification, and the older they get, the less likely they are to have a driver’s license. And women live longer than men
A snapshot of seniors in Central Texas:
A Brookings Institution analysis of 2010 Census data showed that between 2000 and 2010 the Austin-Round Rock metro area had the
fastest growing ‘pre-senior’ population (age 55-64) in the nation and ranked second in senior (age 65+) population growth over the
same time period.1 According to 2010 Census, 138,736 adults age 65 years and older live in the 5-county Central Texas Region known
as the Austin-Round Rock MSA and make up 8% of the total Central Texas population
The Census Bureau showed women are more likely to be enrolled in college — there are 10.9 female students in American colleges, compared with 8.8 million men.
Texas student voters a growing population.
More minority and community college students are seeking a higher education, a trend that helped Texas' enrollment grow about 4.3 percent to about 1.5 million this fall, according to preliminary data released by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board today.

"There is a steady growth across all sectors and ethnic groups," said Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes, during a telephone press conference held this week.

The 2011 preliminary enrollment reflects an increase of 62,467 students, the fourth largest increase since 2001. The state's highest enrollment increase in the last 10 years was in 2009 with 121,935 students.

All of this adds up to 40% and 20% and the other disproportionate percentages that will trickle out from County offices in the next week. All of it spells potential trouble for voters of both parties. Because while students and women and the poor may be more likely to vote for Davis over a Republican challenger, the elderly in Texas form a major Republican voting block. Stay tuned for Republican attempts to exempt elderly men from the requirement.

The last few days I have been asked about the "substantially similar" affidavit language that was inserted into the bill and is the reason voters have been allowed to cast ballots instead of being denied the vote outright. The answer is very simple: Wendy Davis.

When the voter ID bill was up for consideration in the Texas Senate, Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, introduced the amendment that allowed individuals to sign affidavits that would permit them to vote if their name was substantially similar to the one on their identification.
And who are Republicans blaming for glitches in Tuesday's dry run for Governor?

Wendy Davis, of course.

Proponents of the voter ID bill, including Republican Party of Texas chairman Steve Munisteri, blamed Davis' amendment for any hassles with affidavits.  "It reinforces our argument from the start that there isn't any valid reason not to have voter ID," Munisteri said.
For Texas Republicans, it is always the woman's fault. Even when it isn't.

That's the calculus we are trying to change by electing the person responsible for saving  the right to vote for every Texan.

UPDATE: From the comments, very important anecdote about how real people are affected by this law. Heartbreaking, frustrating.
Continuing quest for aunt's photo id

My 86-yr-old aunt, a TX native living in Houston, wants to vote.  She is registered, but has no DL or BC.

Assuming we can get a BC, the next step will be to get a marriage license (the original or a certified copy) to verify the change from her maiden name. (She divorced, maybe '40's or '50's, keeping her husband's name.)

I've been in contact with a couple of voting rights organizations who are helping.

I am hopeful that we can keep the photo ID law from disenfranchising this dear senior citizen.

We are also putting in our two cents in to buttress the case that the law discriminates against women. And maybe against seniors, too.

I can't help it. I love the state of Texas. It's a harmless perversion. - Molly Ivins

by rsmpdx on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 10:37:43 PM CST

Relevant text from one of the TX photo id sites:

If you are using a name other than what is on your birth certificate, (example: married name), you will be required to show legal documentation of name change. Documents must be original or certified copy. No photocopies can be accepted.
Acceptable documents:
1.    Marriage license
2.    Divorce decree
3.    Court ordered name change

Thanks for reading, y'all.

   -  bastrop

Go Wendy!

If you would like to donate to the Wendy Davis campaign.

Battleground Texas

Don't forget to follow Turning Texas by clicking the burnt orange ♥. You can look for more Turning Texas diaries on Davis and other Texas Democratic races all the way through the upcoming election cycle.

Originally posted to Turning Texas: Election Digest on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 06:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing, TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans, Houston Area Kossacks, Southern Action, and This Week in the War on Women.

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