How many times have you seen or heard comments to the effect of, “I don’t see what’s so hard about getting an ID”? Often the commenter will point out that they had to get one to drive so it can’t be that hard.
To explain to people like this that voter ID laws are onerous and disproportionately affect groups who usually vote Democratic, gets you scoffed at. But the truth is often ignored in Teapublican Lala Land.
Texas rammed through a voter ID law as soon as SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights act in 2011.
In Texas, once the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2011, a voter ID law was passed, one so biased that it had previously been struck down. But, thanks to the conservatives in the SCOTUS, that law was revived. But the Justice Department is challenging it and the whole thing has ended up in a Texas courtroom.
During the trial, lawyers from the Brennan Center for Justice will be presenting examples of how the law affects real people. They intend to prove that the law puts a serious burden on blacks and Hispanics, affecting those groups at a much higher rate than whites. That means around 1.2 million voters in Texas will be denied their right to vote if this law stands.
Among the witnesses who will testify are a black woman who moved from Illinois to Texas whose ID was refused at the polls and who can’t afford the $42 to get a copy of her Mississippi birth certificate. Sammie Louise Bates testified that she had to choose whether to spend that money on her birth certificate or food. With a monthly income of about $321, she had to choose food.
The law also affects students. Those at Prairie View A&M, a predominately black college, have a history of being targeted by the state. Now, their student IDs will not be accepted at the polls.
The outcome of this case will not just affect Texas. Many Republican-led states have enacted discriminatory voting laws when the Voting Rights Act was weakened. On the heels of a similar Wisconsin law being struck down, the outcome of this trial will be watched closely.
The Brennan Center lawyers say that they will present more witnesses who lack ID and are unable, for one reason or another, to get one. Expert witnesses will testify as to how many Texans will be disenfranchised if this law is upheld. They will also present testimony from a political science professor as to the near zero rate of voter fraud, the ostensible reason for the law in the first place.
Make no mistake, these voter ID laws are about repressing the Democratic vote. It’s no coincidence that the voters most affected are more likely to vote that way. And the Republicans know that they can’t win unless they cheat. So they cheat. It’s up to us to not let them get away with it.