This Chron story from Monday about a mishap at the County Clerk’s office really annoys me for what it doesn’t say.
A manual being using to train election judges for next week’s elections contains inaccurate information, reflecting a new voter identification law that has not yet taken effect, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said Monday.
Stanart said his office caught the error after the first training class last Monday and since has provided correct information to election workers.
State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said two confused election judges contacted his office last week, concerned the manual was implementing Texas’ new voter identification law a year early.
The controversial law is praised by mostly Republican supporters, who say it will reduce voter fraud, and slammed by mostly Democratic critics, who say such fraud is a false menace and complain the law could disenfranchise the poor, young and elderly.
Good Lord. It’s not a matter of opinion that “such fraud is a false menace”, it’s a matter of verifiable fact that there have been essentially no examples nationwide of vote fraud by impersonation, which is what voter ID laws are supposed to combat, and this is a fact that has been regularly reported. Right here in Texas, Greg Abbott spent more than a year and a million dollars hunting for examples of fraud by impersonation, and the only arrests he made involved absentee ballots, which are completely unaffected by voter ID. His crusade was blatantly partisan, and many of the charges he brought wound up being dismissed. You wouldn’t know any of that from this Chron story, unfortunately.
For that matter, the effect of these laws, not just in Texas but in many other states, is also well documented, and it’s quite clear from statements made by their Republican advocates that reducing turnout among various Democratic constituencies is the prime feature of these laws. But again, you wouldn’t know that from this story.
Here in Texas, where the voter ID law has not yet been precleared by the Justice Department on the grounds that over 600,000 eligible voters do not have ID that will be acceptable under the law, the Secretary of State has so far been unable to provide data about these voters. They are working on it, however, and last week Sen. Ellis released a letter that he sent to SOS Ann McGeehan discussing the Secretary’s decision to use the State Demographer to provide additional data and the questions that still remain. I’ve posted that letter beneath the fold.
You can also see a opy of Sen. Ellis’ letter to County Clerk Stanart here. The point is that the voter ID law has not been precleared yet, and even if it had been it still doesn’t take effect till January. That means you can vote in this election the way you always have and the way you still would if Republicans hadn’t decided a few years ago that every election they lose must be due to swarms of illegal immigrants voting multiple times against them, by simply showing your voter registration card. The republic will survive for at least one more election under those conditions.
October 27, 2011
Ms. Ann McGeehan
Director or Elections
Texas Secretary of State
Texas Capitol, Room 1E.8
Austin, Texas 78701
Dear Ms. McGeehan:
Yesterday, I received a letter dated October 21, 2011 from Dr. Lloyd Potter, the Texas State Demographer. In the letter, Dr. Potter stated that he had recently met with the Secretary of State (SOS) and her staff to discuss my October 10, 2011 letters requesting that the State Demographer’s office perform an additional analysis of voter registration data so that the state may fully comply with a September 23, 2011 request from the Department of Justice (DOJ) for additional information regarding SB 14 (82nd Legislature).
As you recall, part of the DOJ’s September 23 request was for “[t]he number of registered voters in Texas, by race and by Spanish surname within county of residence, who currently possess a Texas driver’s license or other form of photo identification issued by [the Department of Public Safety] that is current or has expired within sixty days.” Furthermore, the DOJ requested, “[f]or the 605,576 registered voters who the State has advised do not have a Texas driver’s license or personal identification card, … the number of such person by Spanish surname, as well as an estimated number by race, within county of residence.” As you also recall, your office’s October 4, 2011 response to the DOJ did not provide the federal agency with the requested breakdown by race.
Dr. Potter’s letter, which is attached for your review, states that he understands the SOS is “working to be responsive to the Department of Justice’s request.” Additionally, he understands “that the Secretary will be communicating with [Sen. Ellis] about the specifics of how they will be responding.”
This is very encouraging to hear. I was initially concerned that your office would be unwilling to work with the State Demographer’s office in order to fully comply with the DOJ’s request. But the information I received yesterday — specifically that your office is working to be fully responsive to the DOJ’s request outlined above — is indeed promising.
Regarding your efforts to fully comply with the DOJ’s request, I thus have the following questions:
· What is the source of the data that will allow you to fully comply with the DOJ’s request, specifically as it relates to the requested breakdown by race?
· How does this data differ from what your office used to develop your October 4, 2011 response?
· Why was this data not used in your October 4, 2011 response?
· Will your follow-up response to the DOJ thus include the requested breakdown by race, as called for in the DOJ’s September 23, 2011 letter?
Given the short timelines associated with preclearance of SB 14, I ask that your office respond to this letter via a written response no later than November 2, 2011.