Thanks to the Supreme Court and the relentless efforts of the GOP to suppress minority voters, early voting in Texas is taking place under the strictest identification laws in the country.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that these ID requirements “may prevent more than 600,000 Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.”
Texas now requires voters to present a photo ID at the polls, but it must come from a very specific list. Driver’s or gun licenses are approved, but a state college ID is not. Even presenting the voter registration card that you used in the last election won’t cut it now because there is no photo on it.
The law had been struck down earlier this month by federal district judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who said that the law was simply an attempt by the GOP to “suppress the overwhelmingly Democratic votes of African Americans and Latinos,” reported The Guardian.
Many of these voters, minority or not, are also very poor. And while obtaining a photo ID might not seem like that big of a deal, as Ginsburg noted, “more than 400,000 eligible voters face round-trip travel times of three hours or more to the nearest” government office that issues IDs.
And while the state claims to offer birth certificates, which normally cost about $22, for $2 to $3 for election purposes only, it has not publicized that option adequately.
“Even at $2, the toll is at odds with this court’s precedent,” she wrote, referencing the SCOTUS decision to eliminate Virginia’s poll tax.
The $22 birth certificate is still a struggle for some of Texas’ poorest residents. The Guardian spoke to Eric Kennie, a 45-year-old native Texan, who has never missed an election or even left the city of Austin. He said his parents raised him to think that voting is important and part of “doing the right thing.”
Kennie works as a “scrapper”, which means he forages for metal that he can then sell to recycling centers or scrap yards. He makes about “$15 to $20” a day on average and has no bank account or credit cards in his name, The Guardian said.
Because of Texas’ ridiculous laws, Kennie won’t be able to vote for the first time since he turned 18. He has an expired photo ID, but that won’t work. He has his voter registration card with his address on it, along with utility bills , but that won’t work either. He doesn’t have a passport or driver’s license because he has never had the need for either one.
Kennie has tried multiple times to get the right ID to be able to vote, some trips taking up to seven hours, only to be told no for various reasons: expired ID, incorrect last name on his birth certificate, etc.
Despite the treatment by his government, Kennie said that, although he may have lost this round, he hasn’t given up for good.
“I do need to vote; I really do,” he said. “It’s too late for me, but this is for the next generation. They need us to get out the people who harm us and bring in folk who make things a little better. So I’m gonna keep on. I’m going to stay focused, roll with the punches and do What I got to do.”
And if the Texas GOP has its way, Kennie can probably expect to fighting for years and elections to come.