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'He's Voted All His Life': Strict Voter ID Law In Texas Gets 93-Year-Old Veteran Turned Away

| by Jared Keever

A Texas election judge said Sunday that, since early voting began, he has only seen one person at his polling place turned away because of the state’s controversial voter ID law.

William Parsley told ThinkProgress he was forced to turn away a man because he had stopped driving years ago and had an expired driver’s license.

“An elderly man, a veteran. Ninety-three years old,” Parsley, an election judge for the last 15 years, said. “His license had expired.”

Texas’ new voter ID law, reportedly among the strictest in the nation, requires that a person wanting to vote must furnish one of seven different forms of identification. Those forms include a Texas-issued driver’s license, a veteran’s ID card, or a gun registration. Driver’s licenses are allowed to be expired, but only for 60 days.

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Parsley said the veteran had “all sorts” of identification featuring his picture but none of the forms met the state criteria. The man’s driver’s license had been expired for years. Poll workers advised the man to renew the license so he could come back and cast his vote. 

“He just felt real bad, you know, because he’s voted all his life,” Parsley said.

Texas’ new law was struck down earlier this month by Nelva Gonzales Ramos, a federal district judge who ruled the law was meant by Republicans to suppress the “overwhelmingly Democratic votes of African Americans and Latinos.”

Lower income minorities, the logic goes, are more likely to have hardships that prevent them from renewing licenses and other forms of photo ID. 

The Guardian reports Ramos’ decision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 18 with an early-morning, one-line ruling that put the ID restrictions back in place. 

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a scathing dissent of that decision saying that there was no history of polling place, voter fraud in the state to justify such a strict law. Ginsburg said the law was “purposefully discriminatory” and that there were “only two in-person voter fraud cases prosecuted to conviction in Texas” between 2002 and 2011. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent, according to The New York Times

Marianela Acuna Arreaza, a Texas coordinator for the activist group VoteRiders, said the the ID law will have far-reaching consequences. She said she is seeing more people turned away than just the one that Parsley reported. 

“We had a voter show up with her Mississippi ID, and it’s a valid ID with a picture and name,” she said. “Her name matched her voter registration, but it’s not one of the IDs that the law requires. She was offered a provisional ballot, but she refused. She came out and told the poll monitors.”

Some estimate that could happen to as many as 600,000 legally registered voters across the state of Texas this year.

Arreaza said that many of those turned away never remedy the problem and come back to cast their vote. 

“A lot of people are ashamed of being rejected, and they just don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “We have so many cases, but not everyone wants to come out and speak about it.”

Sources: ThinkProgress, The Guardian, The New York Times

Photo Source: Flickr/InfoWars, Wikipedia