Whoops! We bet that when Republicans in the Texas state legislature passed their voter ID law, the last person that they were trying to keep from voting would be District Court Judge Sandra Watts, but that’s exactly what almost happened.
Watts, who has been voting in Texas for 49 years without a single problem, ran into issues Tuesday night when she showed up at her polling place to cast her early ballot for November’s special election. According to ThinkProgress the 117th District Court Judge hit a snag because her driver’s license lists her maiden name as her middle name, while her voter registration form uses her actual middle name. Texas has a new voter ID law that took effect for the first time in this year’s special election, and Judge Watts was not happy about her experience.
Watts was nearly barred from voting because of the difference in the names on her driver’s license and the registration form because according to Texas law she had to be flagged for potential voter fraud due to the discrepancy. Watts was floored that the ID she had “used for voter registration and for identification for the last 52 years was not sufficient yesterday” at the polls. She went to say she was concerned about other women not knowing about this change and being disenfranchised because of it.
“I don’t think most women know that this is going to create a problem,” the judge said. “That their maiden name is on their driver’s license, which was mandated in 1964 when I got married, and this. And so why would I want to use a provisional ballot when I’ve been voting regular ballot for the last 49 years?” In response to public demand, state officials said they’d start distributing free voter ID cards to those who don’t have them, but ThinkProgress is also reporting that as of this moment, less than 50 out of the 1.5 million people who would need one have gotten one.
Texas is one of several states controlled by Republicans in their state legislative bodies that have enacted new voter ID laws. The rise of these laws came into sharp focus in last year’s presidential election in the state of Florida, which saw massive, unprecedented lines to vote, taking some several hours to get through the process.