Dallas County officials are looking at doubling down on voter outreach, days after launching perhaps the state’s most extensive attempt to alert voters to potential identification problems resulting from Texas’ new voter ID law. County commissioners will examine on Tuesday a proposal to spend up to an additional $165,000 on efforts to resolve voters’ complications with improper photo ID and name discrepancies between required forms of identification. The infusion — which won’t be voted on for at least another week — would come on top of $145,000 that commissioners approved in October to spend on mailings aimed at clearing up lingering conflicts and confusion ahead of the March primary. That first allocation resulted in the mailing on Jan. 24 of notices to 195,000 voters about the ID law’s provision that a voter’s name on a valid photo ID must exactly match the name listed in the voter registration database. It remains to be seen specifically how the extra funds would be used, as officials offered on Friday varying descriptions of possible outreach efforts. But given the voter ID law’s hot-button status, Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting figures to be a heated affair.
Republican Commissioner Mike Cantrell on Friday outlined several concerns with the idea — chief among them, the additional cost to the taxpayer. “We’re not Washington,” said Cantrell, who voted for the initial spending. “We can’t keep just throwing money at the problem.”
The new law, which took effect last summer, requires voters to present one of seven valid photo IDs to vote. The law is a hotly contested partisan issue, with Republicans generally supportive and Democrats generally opposed.
County commissioners voted last year to spend up to $275,000 to join the U.S. attorney general’s office and others in a lawsuit challenging the law. Cantrell, the only GOP commissioner, was the lone “no” vote.
Despite that, commissioners were unanimous last October in approving up to $145,000 to contact voters. The money was marked for elections officials to scan county and state databases, identify voters with problems and mail out notices.