Texas officials are pushing to close dozens of driver’s license offices in counties with large populations of Hispanic and Black voters—a move that could have an outsize impact in a state that makes it difficult to vote without a photo ID. The Texas counties of Zapata, Jim Hogg, Brooks, and Kenedy stretch from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Gulf of Mexico and are the gateway to the Rio Grande Valley. Residents of these mostly rural and overwhelmingly Hispanic counties either have to or may soon have to travel to another county to obtain a driver’s license.
The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission on Wednesday will consider recommendations from state agencies including the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), which the commission directed to “develop and implement a plan to close inefficient driver license offices.”
DPS has proposed shuttering 87 driver’s license offices around the state, with the majority of the proposed closures located in the Lubbock and San Antonio regions. The closures would leave at least 68 counties without a driver’s license office, and would disproportionately affect rural counties and communities of color.