Tuesday, November 08, 2011

So Did You Vote Today?

I am a voting junky. I vote in any and every election they’ll let me vote in. I love to vote so much that I usually show up at an early voting polling place and vote early, usually on the 2nd day of early voting – I give them a day to work out the bugs.

But this year I decided I would vote on Election Day just to see how my local precinct polling place was doing.

Brand new faces.

Last time I voted at my precinct polling place, in 2005, for the constitutional amendments including the amendment that made same sex marriage in Texas unconstitutional, I stood in a line going out the front door for about 45 minutes. What can be the delay, I asked myself.

Well the delay was that everyone I was standing in line with were from the same church, they all knew each other, and had all shown up to vote in what is typically a low turnout election to vote against the gays.

And they all knew the poll workers, who they had pleasant conversations with as they painstakingly went through their tasks. None of these were under the age of 80 in my opinion.

Well, today, I was gratified to see that youth had taken over the precinct polling place and check-in was smooth and efficient.

But there was a new wrinkle at this election, which is the real reason for this report. That’s right, I buried the lead again.

After I got my ballot code the last person in the check-in table pealed off a document from a stack she had in front of her and told me that it was information about new procedures in the next election.

Oh, oh, here it comes, and I looked at it and was not surprised to see that it was an announcement that the new Voter ID law would, starting in 2012, require one of 7 forms of identification, all of which must have a photograph of the voter attached.

But I have to give them credit the first sentence in the notification reads this way:
“Upon US Justice Department approval of a photo identification law passed by the Texas legislature in 2011, effective 2012 a voter will be required to show one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location before the voter will be permitted to cast a vote.”

It goes on to list the 7 forms of identification, all but one requiring the voter to pay a fee for the identification, and one of them including a Texas Concealed Handgun License issued by the DPS.

Only in Texas

So I don’t take issue with the notification of a requirement that will be inevitably turned down by the DOJ as it violates the constitutional rights of ethnic groups to vote, they actually did say it was pending approval.

What I take issue with is the fact that they decided that this notification at this time, the lowest voter turnout election, lower than a school board election even, could even be considered due diligence.

Somewhere between 5 and 6 percent of all registered voters will turn out in this election, yet this is when the notification goes out. It really is as if they don’t want to transmit these new requirements on the off-chance that the DOJ finally approves the law (which they won’t).

There is no end to the meanness there is in this state. Texas hates voters.

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