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There are reasons why “suspect addresses” may be legit

Real talk here.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Texas law requires voters to register where they live. At the same time, state law requires counties to take voters at their word that their voter registration applications are truthful.

Registrars who suspect an address may be invalid can send letters to voters asking them to confirm where the live. If residents re-submit the same address, however, registrars must process the application. Sam Taylor, spokesman for the Texas secretary of state, said the only other remedy registrars have is to refer cases to district attorneys for prosecution.

“The Texas Election Code does not grant any sort of additional investigative authority to a voter registrar in that situation,” Taylor said. “That’s where investigators and/or law enforcement get involved.”

Taylor said the secretary of state’s office has received complaints about the issue in the past, but said instances in which voters insist they live at an address that appears commercial are not a widespread problem.

“It does occur occasionally and we do occasionally hear frustrations from county voter registrars,” Taylor said.

See here for some background. Let’s state up front again that elected officials routinely game the “home address” requirement, with far less scrutiny. Let’s also state that the election process for many utility districts is a sham, again with far less attention and outcry than a few votes with PO box addresses. We could be a little more consistent about this sort of thing, is what I’m saying.

Having said all that, let’s talk about why some people might legitimately not want to put their residential address on their voter registration. Some people are dealing with stalkers and abusive exes, and thus do not want their home locations to be publicly searchable. Some people are homeless, or in transitional situations. Some people may be on temporary assignments out of state or out of the country. I have a friend from college who spent several years as a road-warrior employee for a company that provided software and training services for law firms. She literally lived in hotels or at friends’ houses year-round, and used her employer’s New York office as her mailing address. Some people live in Winnebagos and drive around the country.

I would argue that all these people have a right to vote that should not be challenged by some busybody party apparatchiks. It may be that some folks have dishonorable reasons for not using a “true” residential address on their registrations, but let’s keep some perspective here. Four thousand of them may sound like a lot, but there are 2.3 million registered voters in Harris County, so we’re talking less than 0.2% of the total. It’s basically a rounding error, even if you refuse to grant that there are any legitimate reasons for doing this. Maybe instead of obsessing over this tiny number of technical violations, we could grant ordinary voters the same deference we insist on giving elected officials when it comes to where they say they live.

(If instead we want to crack down on elected officials with dubious residential situations, I know who I’d start with. But we both know that’s not going to happen.)

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4 Comments

  1. voter_worker says:

    As long as the voter registration application requires a residential address while admonishing the applicant that providing false information on the form is a crime, there will be a built-in contradiction in the process. I’m still surprised that no articles, to my knowledge, have yet cited the court order that the Harris County VR operates under, requiring them to accept any address as long as it can be verified as an actual physical address. With that in place, what would be the basis for challenging anyone’s use of a business address or postal box on a voter registration application submitted to the Harris county VR?

  2. Who cares?

    If dave wilson is smart enough to trick people into believing he could be black and live in the hcc district. Oh well.

    With the exception of the medical center. Houstonians aren’t exactly the brightest.

    But then again… we’re still waiting for charles to ask real questions to houston city council candidates.

  3. C.L. says:

    We’re still waiting on Joe ‘I alone am the answer, I alone can make wrongs right’* to be less of a narcissist as well, but…

    *my apologies to The Decemberists

  4. I’m running for office to make public and private sector leaders look lazy and stupid. Who cares about winning. LOL

    It’s really not that hard to google company and government ideas and compare them to competitors.

    It’s kind of embarrassing when ceo’s and politicians have to privately and publicly ask an unemployed gringo with a spanish degree how to improve employee benefits and run the 4th largest city with ideas he googled.

    But then again. I don’t see any other millenials writing dozens/hundreds on how to run the 4th largest city.