A combination of lax enforcement in the state’s election code, a faulty voter registration system and lack of leadership by state election officials have led to the disenfranchisement of thousands of Texans who faced challenges while registering to vote in the 2012 elections, according to a report the Texas Civil Rights Project released on Monday. The TCRP’s report largely focused on what the organization calls a problematic lack of enforcement power in the office of the state’s top election official, the Secretary of State, and calls on the Legislature to amend the Texas Election Code to give officials there the ability to enforce voter registration procedures at the state and local levels. The Texas Secretary of State’s office said while it does not have enforcement authority, it does educate and work with entities that carry out voter registration and ensure that voters are able to cast ballots. The report outlines several recommendations to improve voter registration, including additional oversight of state agencies that are required by law to register individuals who apply for state services.
After six years of fierce partisan battling, the legislative war over voter ID in Texas is officially over. Gov. Rick Perry signed the voter ID bill into law this morning. The legislation requires voters to present one of five acceptable forms of photo ID—a drivers license, military ID, passport, concealed handgun license or a special voter ID card provided free of charge by the state. Gov. Perry designated voter ID as an “emergency item” early in the session, giving it particular priority as lawmakers rushed it through the legislative process.
… The bill signed today enacts a voter ID law more stringent than its counterparts in other states. Unlike Indiana’s law—which the bill was largely based on—Texas’ voter ID law doesn’t recognize student IDs as acceptable forms of voter identification and it gives people with a missing an ID only six days to produce one in order for their vote to count.
Texas joined South Carolina and Wisconsin in passing a bill to curb vote fraud by demanding photo identification before letting someone cast a ballot. Republican Governor Rick Perry plans to sign the measure tomorrow, according to an e-mailed statement today. The second most-populous state joins six others including Florida and Indiana that demand a photo ID from voters at the polls.
Opponents plan to challenge the measure in court, said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. The Austin-based nonprofit group, which advocates on behalf of minorities, says the law is unconstitutional and aimed at making it harder for Latinos to vote. Republicans who dominate the Legislature say it will survive judicial review.