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Getting ready for the new voter ID universe

It’s a scramble.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

With roughly two months before early voting starts, Texas election officials are facing the difficult task of training thousands of poll workers and educating the public about court-ordered changes to a voter ID law – all while under an intense microscope.

That process is expected to be exacerbated by the sheer size of Texas, the volume of county election offices – 254 in all – an extreme time crunch and a politically-charged environment.

The heavy lifting starts now.

The Texas Secretary of State’s office late this week circulated final instructions to county officials about identification requirements for the Nov. 8 election – materials that will serve as guidance for local election administrators doing training.

In less than two weeks, Secretary of State Carlos Cascos is planning to embark on a statewide tour, where, according to court documents, he could visit San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley, among a list of potential sites, to talk voter ID.

And around the same time, Texas is poised to start recording television and radio spots set to air in October, court documents say, the first steps in an estimated $1.3 million advertising campaign. That will also include digital, print and social media ads slated to start appearing by the first week of September.

[…]

“It’s going to be a real challenge. It takes a long time to get this election machinery moving, and the closer it gets to the election the more likely the implementation of the changes will get screwed up in various places,” said Joseph Fishkin, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in constitutional and election law. “You have so many poll workers in Texas that are well meaning but not necessarily well trained. There’s going to be a lot of low-level questions about how to implement the ruling successfully.”

As we know, all of this is part of the agreement that was hammered out between plaintiffs and the AG’s office, and approved by the federal district court judge. I agree with Professor Fishkin’s assessment, and we will need to be tolerant of well-meaning but misinformed election workers, at least this year. The main danger here isn’t for people who have voted before and who have an accepted form of ID to show. The concern is for the three or four million people who will show up in November who haven’t cast a vote during the voter ID era, including a significant number of people who will be voting for the first time. What happens when someone gives them bad information, and maybe causes them to decide they can’t vote at all? And let’s not forget, not everyone has good intentions. This quote here is troubling:

Harris County Clerk and chief election official Stan Stanart, who oversees one of the largest county election operations in the nation, said Friday he does not expect any problems with putting in place changes to the law. That’s mostly because he is not expecting much of an influx of people lacking one of the state-approved ID.

“The numbers are going to be small,” said Stanart, who estimates 6,000 election workers will be trained in Harris County before November. “That’s our experience with voter ID.”

But Stanart also issued a warning: his office will look into those signing affidavits claiming they don’t have required identification. He said voters who lied will be turned over to the district attorney.

“People are signing an oath. They are swearing they don’t have an ID,” he said. “If they think they can come in and vote without an ID when they have one sitting in their pocket, that’s going to be a problem.”

Stan Stanart is one of those people who doesn’t have good intentions. That sounds an awful lot like a threat the treat people who show up with a form of ID that is on the agreement with suspicion. It’s one thing to have tolerance for honest mistakes. How much tolerance are we going to have for that?

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2 Comments

  1. Doris Murdock says:

    Repeating myself, reinstate student I.D.s

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    @Doris:

    A student ID is NOT proof of being a US citizen. Since Uncle Sam insists on educating illegal aliens, there are plenty of illegal kids who were and are enrolled in Texas schools, and they have student ID’s, but they are not permitted to vote, much less to even BE in the US.