On May 27, 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law Senate Bill 14, which requires that voters show photo identification at the polls in order to cast a ballot. Only the following forms of ID are acceptable for purposes of voting:
- Texas driver’s license;
- Personal identification card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety and featuring the voter’s photograph;
- Election identification certificate (a new form of state photo identification created by the legislation);
- U.S. military identification card featuring the voter’s photograph;
- U.S. citizenship certificate featuring the voter’s photograph;
- U.S. passport; or
- Concealed handgun permit issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
To obtain an election identification certificate, personal identification card, or driver’s license, individuals must travel to a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) office. Texas DPS runs the state’s Driver License Offices (DLOs). If the forms of identification mentioned above are obtainable at a DLO location, then assessing whether minorities must travel longer distances to reach their nearest DLO location is relevant to understanding the effect of Texas’ voter ID law. My analysis shows that Latino voters in Texas must travel farther than white voters to reach their nearest DLO.
Texas DLO locations are available on the DPS website; I use that information to construct ashapefile (viewable in ArcGIS) with all active DLO locations. Then, using Census 2010 population data by block group, I determine how many Texans live in Census block groups that are in their entirety more than 10 miles away from their nearest DLO location.
The analysis reveals that nearly one million African-American and Latino voting-age citizens would have to travel more than 10 miles in order to reach the closest DLO to their home. In particular, Latino citizens are more likely to have to travel this distance in order to reach their nearest DLO: Latinos constitute 35.2% of the citizen voting-age population more than 10 miles from the nearest DLO, but just 33.2% of the citizen voting-age population in the rest of the state.
Full Article: Unfair Disparities in Voter ID | Brennan Center for Justice.