Jim Wright was once the speaker of the U.S. House, and third in line to the presidency. But Texas’ strict voter ID law nearly prevented him from casting a vote this year. With several major elections and numerous lower-profile races scheduled for Tuesday, Wright’s difficulties are the latest sign that, a year after President Obama pledged to fix America’s broken voting system, it’s more dysfunctional than ever. Wright, 90, has voted every year since 1944. But he realized last week that his driver’s license had expired. Wright has a faculty ID from Texas Christian University, where he teaches political science, but Texas’s voting law doesn’t accept university IDs. So he went Saturday to a government office to get a state ID card. But he was told he’d need to come back Monday with a certified copy of his birth certificate. Wright told msnbc that he was finally able to get his ID on Monday. But he worries about others who may not be able to take as much time. “I think you become a bit discouraged and dismayed and confused, and throw up your hands and say, ‘I’m not going to vote,’” said Wright, a Democrat who served as Speaker in the 1980s and was one of a minority of Texas congressmen who voted for the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In fact, Wright said he thinks dissuading voters is the point of the law. “I do believe that there’s an apprehension on their part, unreasonably so, of too many people voting. I hate to say that.”
Wright’s struggles are hardly unique. Obama’s election night promise last year—“we’re gonna fix that!”—was a reaction to long lines in Florida and elsewhere that forced some voters to wait eight hours or more. Earlier this year, Obama created a commission to look into the problem. But since then, it’s become even clearer that the most urgent threats to voting are the result of deliberate Republican efforts to make voting more difficult, especially for poor and minority voters who lean Democratic. Those efforts got a massive boost in June when the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, making it easier for some states to impose voting restrictions without pushback from the federal government. In some places, Tuesday’s elections will be the first test of their impact.
Texas’ controversial voter ID law is the highest-profile example. Passed in 2011, it was blocked last year by a federal court under the Voting Rights Act. But thanks to the Supreme Court’s weakening of the Voting Rights Act, the law is now in effect for the first time—though the Justice Department is still challenging it. And in early voting so far, it’s not going well.
Full Article: Is voter ID failing the test already? | MSNBC.