Republicans Knew Voter ID Law Would Disenfranchise over 500,000 Voters

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There have been only two cases of voter impersonation in the past ten years in Texas. To prevent a third case, Republicans have passed a law that will prevent over half a million registered Texans from voting. What makes it worse is that they knew how many people would be disenfranchised.

In 2011, Republican lawmakers requested information from the Texas Secretary of State and Department of Public Safety regarding how many registered voters did not have state-issued photo IDs. The answer was at least 504,000 and potentially as many as 844,000. But that didn’t stop them.

According to the Texas Tribune, “Republican state officials working to pass a voter photo ID law in 2011 knew that more than 500,000 of the state’s registered voters did not have the credentials needed to cast ballots under the new requirement. But they did not share that information with lawmakers rushing to pass the legislation.”

David Dewhurst was one of them. According to an elections official, “Lt. Gov. Dewhurst was aware of the no-match list results showing 678,000 to 844,000 voters being potentially disenfranchised.”

Even though the voter ID law has been ruled an unconstitutional poll tax, it will still be in effect for this election cycle because the Supreme Court determined that the ruling was close enough to the election to be disruptive.

As a result, people who have lived in Texas their whole lives and never even left the state are not able to vote. The Guardian tells the story of Eric Kennie, who is 45 years old and has never left Austin. But he doesn’t have a driver’s license (he doesn’t have a car), a passport, a military ID, a handgun license or a citizenship ID. So that leaves him the option of a photo ID known as an election identification certificate, which means he needs to fork over other things he doesn’t have – like a DPS-issued photo ID and a birth certificate. His photo ID is more than 60 days expired. And the name on his birth certificate didn’t match his current name because his mom was married to someone else when he was born, and changing it would require hiring a lawyer. Since Kennie makes $15 – 20 per day by recycling cans and bottles, he doesn’t have that kind of cash to spare.

Kennie is not alone. Black voters are three times as likely as white voters to lack the identification they need under the new law. For this election cycle, stories like Kennie’s will be the reality for hundreds of thousands of Texans.

Last week we covered everything you need to know to vote in Texas. For too many Texans, it may be too late to get the necessary identification. But the rest of you know what you need to do.



About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.


  1. Let’s see…..he is 45 years old. Did he just now discover that his birth certificate had the wrong name on it? Sure. Now let’s see…..he can’t afford a lawyer to get it changed? Uh, many attorneys would do it pro bono. Further, in every major city, including Austin, there are Legal Aid Societies that do work for the poor at no cost to them. It seems when an ID is needed to get freebies, no problem. But to vote is SOOOOOOOOOOO much work to get an ID. Stop all your disenfranchising nonsense. You Democrats are shameless.

  2. All these people who claim they can’t vote because of the voter ID law is bullshit. you have to have an ID these days to do anything and they know it. You have to have an id to have a bank account, to drive, to buy liquor, to go into clubs all sorts of reasons if you don’t have an ID then then they are illegal.

  3. Texas has gone to great lengths to help EVERYONE get their ID. As soon as the law passed, there was information flooding our airwaves and public aid offices. No one is being kept from voting that followed through to get the needed ID. However, your supposed name must match your birth certificate, marriage license, or legal name change documents. You picked the wrong poster child for this argument. It was his choice to REFUSE ID in his legal name.

  4. Mary in San Antonio on

    You three commentors are pretty judgemental and don’t know the circumstances as to why anyone might not have proper ID. The man in the article, Eric Kennie, makes $15-20 a day by recycling cans and bottles. He also does not have a car. So that means he probably has to take the bus to the DPS office. And to change his birth certificate, he would need a lawyer. Yes, Legal Aid does help indigent citizens but sometimes cannot because of their work load. Who’s to say he hasn’t tried Legal Aid and was turned down because they did not have enough attorneys to assign one to his case? Again, you have no way of knowing. And what about elderly people who have never had to show an ID because they have lived in the same place for years and everyone they deal with knows them? Many elderly do not have birth certificates because they were delivered at home by midwives and it has only been relatively recently that we have to show IDs for everything. I know my dad never had a birth certificate, yet he was able to join the Army, work for the federal government, get a driver’s license and vote because at the time, a baptismal certificate was considered good enough to prove he was born in Texas.

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