Former Speaker of the House Jim Wright, shown here at recent memorial dedication, was denied a voter ID card, and thus the right to vote, on Saturday. (Image Source: Diorama Sky)
Another day, another politician snagged by Texas' new voter ID law. The new law, passed in 2011 and enacted in 2013, essentially makes it incredibly more difficult to vote, due to more stringent ID requirements. Recently, we reported that a Texas judge was forced to sign an affidavit because her maiden name had changed decades ago. Similarly, State Senator and rising star Wendy Davis had to do the same thing last week when slight differences appeared between her voter registration and her driver's license. Now, a former U.S. Speaker of the House, Jim Wright, was denied the ability to vote because his IDs no longer match up with what he needed to vote.
Jim Wright, who served the House of Representatives for Texas' 12th District for more than four decades, was House Majority Leader for 10 years, and then Speaker of the House for 2, before resigning during the Savings and Loan Scandal of the late 1980s. Wright attempted to get a voter ID card over the weekend for the local elections on Tuesday at a local Department of Public Safety office. However, despite honest efforts to get the voter card, he was rejected out of hand, because he had an expired license, and his TCU faculty picture ID was no longer acceptable to DPS officials.
For his part, Wright will attempt and likely get a voter ID card today, with a better form of a identification: A certified copy of his birth certificate. However, the 90-year-old native of Fort Worth is worried that people his age, and the elderly in general, will not be so lucky or quick to navigate the new law as easily. Given that many elderly residents are unlikely to keep up with their licenses or their identification cards, this is a plausible problem.
The very fact that Texas' voter ID law are running into snags from women and the elderly demonstrates the problems with the law itself: It seems to cause more harm by explicitly making it harder to vote than it intended. In addition, the claims that it will prevent voter fraud seem to be negligible at best, given that there has been no recent history of voter fraud in the state, and there are plenty of other ways to commit voter fraud than having fake IDs. It matters not that the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, can vote himself, for he is expected to show that the law works. When will the State of Texas learn from this political form of DRM? Who knows?