Some Democrats in Texas are claiming that the state’s controversial new voter identification law could make it harder for women to cast their ballots. Texans will go to the polls on November 5 to vote on nine proposed amendments to the state constitution, and some areas are also holding local government elections. It is the first statewide vote since it became mandatory in Texas to show a government-issued photo ID at polling places. Some critics of the new law believe that women who have changed their name, for example after marriage or divorce, may be discouraged from voting or run into difficulties while trying. If a prospective voter’s name does not exactly match a name on the list of registered voters, it is up to the election officer at the polling station to determine whether the name is “substantially similar”. If so, the person will be allowed to cast a ballot after signing an affidavit attesting to his or her identity. Those without approved photo ID can vote “provisionally” and then have six days after election day to present acceptable proof to a county registrar.
Early voting is already under way. Local media reported that a judge in Corpus Christi and Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator who is running for governor, had to sign affidavits at the polling station because the names on their driving licenses and voter registration cards were not identical.
“There’s a tremendous concern it will create a problem for women who have been legally voting for years to be able to vote … and that they may be surprised by it,” Davis told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I hope the word will get out. I hope we will continue to see women vote as they have in Texas.”