Federal Courts Have Ordered States Like Texas to Play Fair with Voters
In Texas, some election officials still haven’t gotten it through their heads that they must comply with court orders regarding voting procedure. They are still posting or passing out bad information about what kind of identification is needed to be able to cast a ballot—and it’s confusing many Texans.
This all started in 2011 when Texas passed a strict voter ID law. Using the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice blocked it, noting that the change was discriminatory against people of color and some other voters. But key parts of the VRA were eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. Immediately afterward, Texas started enforcing compliance of the voter ID law. But the DOJ took the matter back to court and won.
Texas tweaked the law. More objections. And so it went: back and forth, back and forth, with some angry and bullseye comments coming from federal District Judge Nelva Ramos Gonzales once she learned her orders weren’t being followed. What it boiled down to was that Texas agreed that citizens who do “not possess an acceptable form of photo identification and cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment” may vote after signing the Reasonable Impediment Declaration.
Case closed, right? Of course not. Jim Malewitz at The Texas Tribune writes:
Amid Texans’ mad dash to polling places this week, the front end of 12 days of voting before Election Day, civil rights groups and some voters are questioning how some county election officials are portraying the state’s voter identification requirements, which a federal judge softened in August.
Among the complaints in pockets of Texas: years-old posters inaccurately describing the rules — more than a dozen instances in Bexar County — and poll workers who were reluctant to tell voters that some could cast ballots without photo identification. [...]
In Bexar County, for instance, lawyers for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said they spotted outdated posters — those describing the strict 2011 ID rules without the new caveats — hanging in at least 14 of the county’s 43 polling places at various points during early voting.
Naturally, this creates the confusion among voters we seeing. Confusion is one of the most effective weapons in the suppressors’ arsenal. One outcome: An unknown but possibly quite large number of citizens who believe they must have the mandated ID will simply choose not to vote at all.
In Wisconsin, which also has a very strict voter ID law, the federal courts ruled that the state’s restrictions went too far and that it should quickly provide a for-voting-only ID. Quickly did not happen, and other obstacles arose.
Some would-be voters seeking one of the new IDs have been told by election officials that they would need an original copy of their birth certificate. But that’s not true. Despite court orders, the officials continue to pass out bits of bad information.
So here we are, less than two weeks away from the election, and state and local officials continue to provide people with bad information about whether they actually will be allowed to vote and if they are allowed, whether their ballot actually will be counted.
The suppressors are determined, aggressively or passive-aggressively, to keep people away from the polls by confusion, disinformation, and delay. Any rules they don’t like, they go around—or they flat-out ignore them .