Texas’ Voter ID law — which requires that voters show election officials an approved and up-to-date photo ID in order to cast a ballot — has long been a point of contention. Since the Lege passed a voter ID requirement in 2011, many of its opponents have questioned whether the law unfairly singles out minorities. While a legal challenge kept Texas’ law from taking effect in time for the 2012 election, the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder last year invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, paving the way for Texas to implement its brand new(ish) voter ID law in time for the November 2014 general election. Another lawsuit filed last year in federal court that challenges the law is set to go to trial in Corpus Christi next week. If the state prevails, November 2014 could be Texas’ first high-turnout election with a voter ID requirement. … The problem with this equation? Well, opponents of the law say that if you’re a poor minority, chances are you’re less likely to have an acceptable photo ID, which means you’re less likely to vote. Don’t believe us? Check out these handy maps assembled by Dr. Gerald Webster, a geography professor who filed the maps in court this summer.
The maps that Dr. Webster compiled are broken down by demographics in Houston (and in every other Texas metro area), from minority neighborhoods to areas with little access to transportation. If you compare those maps to the one showing where residents are less likely to have photo ID, the pattern is pretty astounding.
… So, it basically takes Houston’s bus-riders — i.e. folks in areas where they can’t afford a car — about 6.3 times longer to get approved ID so that they can vote. That might be a slight hindrance, no?
If you’re already poor and you can’t access your local DPS office in a feasible, cost-effective way, chances are you’ll be less likely to get an approved ID than those living in richer neighborhoods who have cars. Which means you’ll be less likely to vote.
That’s cause and effect.