With the November elections rapidly approaching, the State of Texas is trying everything to get people registered. This is nothing new, except the voter ID law passed earlier this year has added a new wrinkle, complicating efforts for those who want to vote and the people trying to register them.
Thus far, the state has opened DPS offices for distribution of the new Election Identification Cards (EICs), including providing special Saturday hours at select locations. Of course, you can't get your driver's license renewed on Saturday, so there will no doubt be some angry people crowding DPS offices on the weekend and making it even more difficult for voters to get an EIC.
Now the state is deploying 25 mobile stations designed specifically to distribute EICs to those who want and need them. Sure, this is a step in the right direction, but how are 25 mobile registration stations going to cover a state the size of Texas? The answer is no doubt badly.
Texas is beefing up efforts to get people registered at least in part because of a number of lawsuits filed over the voter ID law. Groups including the NAACP, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of Texas, the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund and even the U.S. Department of Justice are challenging the state law that requires all voters to produce a photo ID in order to vote.
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Supporters cited rampant voter fraud as the reason the law was necessary, but studies have shown that this claim is specious at best. Most opponents feel the law was motivated by politics, designed specifically to alienate minority, impoverished and young voters. In other words, Democrats. But, there have also been problems for the elderly in acquiring EICs.
In September, Channel 13 did a story on an 84-year-old Lufkin woman who was being denied an EIC because she couldn't come up with the proper documentation. Even her daughter, a legal assistant, had a difficult time sorting through the paperwork. These kinds of problems will only multiply as the election gets closer and Election Day in Texas could be a bigger disaster than usual.
It is ironic that supporters of the effort, mostly conservatives who advocate for smaller government and generally less regulation, would want to expand significantly the amount of oversight required for one of our most fundamental rights as U.S. citizens. As numerous people have pointed out, supporters of more restrictive voting rights are nearly always the same people calling for substantially relaxed gun regulations.
With critical elections in Houston that include the mayoral race and a ballot initiative to determine the fate of the Astrodome, the last thing this city needs is longer voting lines and a more difficult process. The good news is if you have a Texas driver's license, a Texas ID card, a U.S. Passport, a U.S. citizenship certificate (with photo), a U.S. Military ID or, get this, a Texas concealed handgun permit, you don't need an EIC. Have gun, will vote, I suppose.