The day after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas’s Voter ID law has a discriminatory effect on elections, a new study found some evidence in our backyard. A joint study by Rice University and the University of Houston examined Voter ID’s impact on the 2014 District 23 Congressional race between Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego and Republican challenger Will Hurd. District 23 covers 800 miles of Texas borderland, and stretches from San Antonio to El Paso. Bexar County contains 42 percent of the district’s registered voters. Given that the two major critiques of Voter ID — enacted in 2011 with Republican support, and Democratic opposition — are that it has a discriminatory impact on minority voters and that the GOP pushed it in order to help their own political cause, the 2014 election in District 23 provided the research group a perfect test case. “The great thing about CD-23 was that it allowed us to look at both of those things at the same time, because it’s a Latino majority district, but it’s also one that’s politically relevant,” said Mark Jones, the fellow at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
Staying safe in the heat Summer program helps children with disabilities Six kids, couple slain in Houson; wife’s former partner charged Small Texas town bracing for big changes Lack of affordable housing plagues border Documents shed light on police concerns over biker showdown At ChalleNGe Academy, troubled teens get last, ‘best’ chance.
District 23 is relevant because it’s the only genuine swing district among this state’s 36 Congressional seats. For three elections in a row, District 23 incumbents have been unseated by challengers from the opposition party.
The most fascinating part of the study is the new slant it gives us on how Voter ID alters election results. In a survey of 400 registered District 23 voters who neglected to vote last November, 12.8 percent cited their lack of an acceptable photo ID as one of the reasons they did not vote, and 5.8 percent described it as their primary reason for sitting out the election.