Early voting has been underway to nearly a week in Texas, and election judge William Parsley said on Sunday he has seen just one voter turned away at his polling location. At the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center in downtown Houston, the criminal from whose vote we are protected was an elderly veteran whose license was no longer valid.
“An elderly man, a veteran. Ninety-three years old,” Parsley told ThinkProgress. “His license had expired.” Under Texas’ new poll tax that was recently reinstated, Voters can prove their identity with a Texas driver’s license, a federal veterans ID card, or even a gun registration — but this particular veteran’s license had expired years prior and had not been renewed likely because he was no longer driving. He had also not obtained a veteran’s ID.
Parsley said the pan had “all sorts” of other identification with pictures, but they were not valid under the law, which is one of the more repressive in the country. “He just felt real bad, you know, because he’s voted all his life,” Parsley said.
Texas’ strict regulations have prevented at least ten people from voting thus far, according to poll watcher Marianela Acuña Arreaza.
“We had a voter show up with her Mississippi ID, and it’s a valid ID with a picture and name,” said Arreaza, the Texas coordinator for VoteRiders, a non-profit assists people with obtaining voter identification so they can vote under the new restrictions. “Her name matched her voter registration, but it’s not one of the IDs that the law requires.”
“She was offered a provisional ballot, but she refused,” Arreaza continued. “She came out and told the poll monitors.” Arreaza worries that those who are denied will not return to the polls.
“We try to encourage people to come back, but what we’re worried about is that we may just lose that ballot as a whole,” she said. “A lot of people are ashamed of being rejected, and they just don’t want to talk about it. We have so many cases, but not everyone wants to come out and speak about it.”
Parsley said that the state of Texas always has issues with rejected ballots, largely because of the frequent changes to voting laws. However, at other locations, he says the problem could be larger.
“At this location [in Downtown Houston], the people rejected are a drop in the bucket. Maybe a tenth of a percent,” he said. “If we were near an old folk’s home, maybe that’d be a different story.”