Nov. Election Shows Texas Voter ID Means Long Wait At The Polls

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Texas’ new voter ID laws could cause voting delays of up to six hours in upcoming elections.

About 14,000 voters were delayed while attempting to vote in Dallas County on Nov. 5, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Thousands of Texas voters signed affidavits or cast provisional ballots because their name on the voting rolls didn’t exactly match their name on their photo ID.

The affidavit testifies that the voter is who they say they are. If a voter refuses to sign an affidavit, they could cast a provisional ballot. The number of provisional ballots — 1,365 — is more than double the number from a similar election in 2011.

It is unclear how many people signed affidavits, but two of the leading candidates for Texas governor in 2013, Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis, both had to sign them. Davis’ driver’s license reads “Wendy Russell Davis,” while Abbott’s says “Gregory Wayne Abbott.”

With small disparities between ID and voter rolls, 13,903 people signed affidavits in Dallas County alone.

With many voters delayed several minutes, that time adds up, election officials say. In November, during local elections, the turnout was only 6 percent. In a high-turnout election, the time needed to process voters could be insurmountable.

“If it made any kind of a line in an election with 6 percent [voter] turnout, you can definitely imagine with a 58 percent,” Dallas County elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole told the Morning News.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) worries that long lines will deter people from voting.

“Voter ID is a solution looking for a problem,” said Martinez Fischer. “There’s not a voter identification problem in the state of Texas.”

Former House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Texas) was denied a Texas voter ID in November after the 90-year-old provided Department of Public Safety with an expired driver’s license and faculty ID card from the Texas Christian University. He was told the only way to prove his identity is with a certified copy of his birth certificate.

“I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won’t dramatically reduce the number of people who vote,” Wright said. “I think they will reduce the number to some extent.”

Sources: ThinkProgress, Dallas Morning News