Texas’ strict new voter ID law is being put to its first widespread test. Early voting for the November 5 elections began Monday, and there have already been signs of trouble. Under the controversial new legislation, which supporters claim prevents fraud, all voters must supply an approved form of photo identification that exactly matches the name on their voter registration cards. The U.S. Department of Justice slapped Texas with a lawsuit over this issue in August, arguing the law disenfranchises minority voters. But it could hit women particularly hard, especially those who use their maiden names or hyphenated names. Sonia Gill, an attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, warned many voters might be in for an unpleasant surprise on Election Day. “Women in particular are going to have a difficult time because they are more likely to have changed their names and, as a result, the name on their photo ID may not match up to the name listed on their voter registration.”
Approved forms of valid photo IDs include a Texas driver’s license, a Texas personal ID card, a Texas concealed handgun license, a U.S. military ID card, a U.S. citizenship certificate, or a U.S. passport. The state also started issuing new “Texas Election Identification Certificates” geared toward the estimated 1.4 million eligible voters who are currently missing photo IDs. But according to the Dallas Morning News, as of last week, only 41 residents got one of these new certificates. Statewide.
Adding to the list of hurdles, if variations in names exist, Texans need to show original documents or certified copies of their name change, via a marriage license, divorce decree or court ordered change. No photocopies are allowed. The state had been charging at least $20 to get a new version of these documents. But Texas Secretary of State John Steen’s office announced these “Election Identification Certificates are available free of charge to qualified voters who do not already have an approved form of photo ID.” A 2006 survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law disclosed that 34% of women voters do not have an acceptable ID that reflects their current legal name.
Full Article: Why women in Texas may be blocked from voting | MSNBC.