As many as a quarter of voters in some small Texas counties might not be able to cast ballots if the federal government allows the new state voter ID law to go into effect. And in some places, the potential for that decrease in the number of voters could affect the outcome of elections.
The impact of the law was gleaned from several pages of data that the Texas secretary of state’s office provided to the U.S. Department of Justice, which is reviewing the law to determine whether it illegally hurts minority voters. The data show that in 27 of Texas’ 254 counties, at least 10 percent of the registered voters might be unable to cast ballots, if Senate Bill 14 by Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, takes effect.
Fraser’s bill requires voters to show a valid government-issued photo ID — such as a Texas driver’s license, Department of Public Safety identification card, state concealed handgun license, U.S. military ID or U.S. passport — to vote in elections.
The bill, which was signed into law in May and is supposed to be used for the first time in March, is not allowed to go into effect immediately. Because of a history of racial discrimination, Texas must get the federal government’s approval through a process called pre-clearance.
The numbers sent to the Justice Department from the secretary of state’s office drew opposite reactions from Republicans and Democrats.