Texas’ photo ID law agency voters whose photo ID name doesn’t bout their bearing affirmation name charge accompany alliance and annulment abstracts to the polls.
Two alternating aborigine ID laws in Texas imposed new requirements on voters who ability accept afflicted their aftermost names due to alliance or annulment (an affair which primarily affects women).
The laws do not accept annihilation to do with bearing certificates and do not crave the bringing of alliance or annulment abstracts to the polls. The laws still acquiesce voters to casting accustomed ballots afterwards signing affidavits and appearance boxes on the acclamation affirmation labeled “Similar Name.”
In the weeks arch up to the November 2018 U.S. midterm elections, letters of aborigine aishment and aborigine artifice intensified, and a years-old meme emerged which gave the consequence that the accompaniment of Texas was disenfranchising women en masse:
Texas is preventing up to 1/3 of changeable voters from voting.
This agency if a woman has been married, afar and re-married again she charge accompany both alliance certificates and annulment abstracts in adjustment to vote!
Although we accustomed inquiries from readers about these claims starting in August 2018, the meme itself, created by the Facebook folio “Meme GOP,” absolutely aboriginal emerged in the autumn of 2013, in the lead-up to two appropriate statewide elections in Texas.
The meme referenced a absolute aborigine ID altercation that occurred in Texas in 2012 and 2013, but it presented some capacity falsely and decidedly abstract the admeasurement to which the action in catechism absolutely impeded voters, including women, from casting their ballots.
In 2011, Texas accompaniment legislators anesthetized S.B. 14, a bill which appropriate registered voters to appearance photo ID at polling stations. The accustomed forms of ID were defined as: driver’s license, acclamation identification certificate, Texas Department of Public Safety claimed ID card, aggressive ID, U.S. citizenship certificate, U.S. passport, and a buried blaster license.
If a voter’s name as apparent on the photo ID did not absolutely bout the name on the aborigine rolls but was “substantially similar” in the assessment of polling base staff, the aborigine could casting a acclamation afterwards signing an affirmation swearing that they were the aforementioned being listed on the aborigine roll:
On presentation of the affirmation appropriate beneath Annex (b), an acclamation administrator shall actuate whether the voter’s name on the affirmation is on the account of registered voters for the precinct. If in authoritative a assurance beneath this annex the acclamation administrator determines beneath standards adopted by the secretary of accompaniment that the voter’s name on the affirmation is essentially agnate to but does not bout absolutely with the name on the list, the aborigine shall be accustomed for voting beneath Annex (d) if the aborigine submits an affirmation advertence that the aborigine is the being on the account of registered voters.
A agent for the Texas Secretary of State’s appointment accustomed for us that acclamation clerks were accomplished to attending for overlaps in information, including residential addresses and dates of birth, and amusement above names (for archetype names acclimated in the advance of marriage, divorce, or re-marriage) as “substantially similar.”
What this meant was that, in principle, alike voters whose aftermost names had afflicted back they registered to vote could casting abounding ballots (as adjoin to a conditional ballots) afterwards any affirmation to accompany added affirmation to the polling station. The alone differences in their voting adventures were that they would accept to assurance affirmation affidavits and analysis a box labeled “Similar Name” on their ballots.
It’s accessible that some voters ability be beat from voting by these requirements (especially the affirmation to assurance a affirmation affidavit), or that some acclamation clerks ability not be assiduously accomplished in the accordant procedures, or that a abashing or adjournment over names ability alert a aborigine who was apprenticed for time to accord up on casting a ballot.
However, the meme was amiss in its affirmation that the photo ID law in abode in Texas in 2013 “prevented” anyone (including women) from voting, or that voters were appropriate to accompany alliance or annulment abstracts to the polling station.
Evolution of the policy
Before S.B. 14 could be implemented in 2012, Texas had to access federal approval, beneath a anatomy set out in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires assertive states with a history of ancestral bigotry (including Texas) to get “pre-clearance” from the U.S. Department of Justice back implementing laws that affect the chargeless exercise of the appropriate to vote.
The Justice Department denied Texas this pre-clearance, award that the photo ID requirements in S.B. 14 would disproportionately affect the rights of voters from ancestral and indigenous minorities. Texas took their appliance for pre-clearance to the U.S. Commune Cloister for the Commune of Columbia, which upheld the Justice Department’s decision. As a result, the new photo ID law was kept in authoritative limbo for about addition year.
In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Cloister issued an important assessment in a case declared Shelby County vs. Holder. Roughly speaking, the cloister disqualified actionable the blueprint set out in the Voting Rights Act to actuate which states had to get federal pre-clearance for changes to their voting practices. Back this was the apparatus by which the Justice Department had blocked S.B. 14, the aisle was now bright for Texas to accomplish their new aborigine ID laws.
In October 2013, the accoutrement of S.B. 14 were acclimated for the aboriginal time during two almost accessory statewide elections, but altercation emerged back two high-profile Texas women encountered difficulties at the polling stations due to discrepancies involving their names, as USA Today reported:
One of those voters was accompaniment Sen. Wendy Davis, who acquired civic bulge in June for an 11-hour delay adjoin a law akin abortion. Davis, a Democrat who is now active for governor, adjoin the aborigine ID law but got the affirmation action added as an amendment. [D]uring the state’s aboriginal voting, Davis had to assurance an affirmation while voting because her driver’s authorization includes her beginning name while her aborigine allotment does not.
“It was a simple procedure,” Davis told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I active the affirmation and was able to vote with no problem.” But she said she worries that added women in Texas may be “surprised” by the requirement.
The law doesn’t administer alone to women: Davis’ adequate adversary in the 2014 governor’s race, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, says he will accept to assurance the affirmation additionally back the name on his driver’s authorization is Gregory Wayne Abbott, but he is registered to vote as Greg Abbott.
South Texas television base KIII declared the acquaintance of Commune Adjudicator Sandra Watts:
The botheration came to ablaze back a bounded commune adjudicator had agitation casting a ballot. “What I accept acclimated for aborigine allotment and for identification for the aftermost 52 years was not adequate bygone back I went to vote,” 117th Commune Cloister Adjudicator Sandra Watts said.
Watts has voted in every acclamation for the aftermost 49 years. The name on her driver’s authorization has remained the aforementioned for 52 years, and the abode on her aborigine allotment agenda or driver’s authorization hasn’t afflicted in added than two decades. So brainstorm her abruptness back she was told by voting admiral that she would accept to assurance a “voters affidavit” acknowledging she was who she said she was.
“Someone looked at that and said, ‘Well, they’re not the same,’” Watts said. The difference? On the driver’s license, Adjudicator Watts’ beginning name is her average name. On her aborigine registration, it’s her absolute average name. That was abundant beneath the new, added austere aborigine artifice law, to accelerate up a red flag. “This is the aboriginal time I accept anytime had a botheration voting,” Watts said.
After 2013, the photo ID law went through a somewhat complicated acknowledged saga, which is able-bodied abbreviated here. In 2017, the Texas accompaniment assembly anesthetized a new photo ID law declared S.B. 5, which somewhat airy the ID requirements and acquired U.S. Cloister of Appeals approval in April 2018.
A agent for the Secretary of State’s appointment accustomed to us that the procedures apropos to “substantially similar” names had not afflicted beneath S.B. 5 and remained as they were beneath S.B. 14. Therefore, the meme’s claims about annulment abstracts and bearing and alliance certificates were as inaccurate about the law in October 2018 as they were in October 2013.
The latest official guidelines for acclamation board and clerks in Texas outline the procedures that are accordant to voters whose aftermost names accept afflicted back they registered to vote:
If the voter’s name on the precinct’s account of registered voters is not identical to the voter’s name as it appears on the adequate anatomy of photo identification or the acknowledging anatomy of identification (if applicable), the acclamation administrator will determine, beneath standards adopted by the Secretary of State, if the names are “substantially similar.” If the names are essentially similar, the aborigine shall be accustomed for voting. The aborigine charge abide an affidavit, which is allotment of the aggregate form, advertence that the aborigine is the being on the account of registered voters.
A voter’s name on the presented identification anatomy is advised essentially agnate to the name on the official account of registered voters and a voter’s name on the official account of registered voters is advised essentially agnate to the name on the presented identification anatomy if one or added of the affairs in paragraphs (1) – (4) of this annex are present. In free whether one or added of those affairs are present, acclamation workers should accede whether advice on the presented identification anatomy matches elements of the voter’s advice on the official account of registered voters such as the voter’s abode abode or date of birth, which may be able indicators that the name on the presented identification anatomy is essentially agnate to the name on the official account of registered voters and carnality versa if:
3. Initial, Average Name or Above Name: The voter’s name on the presented identification anatomy contains an initial, a average name, or a above name that is not on the official account of registered voters or the official account of registered voters contains an initial, a average name, or a above name that is not on the presented identification anatomy …
These guidelines accept not afflicted back 2014, back S.B. 14 was still in place.
The 2013 meme referred to a absolute aborigine ID altercation in Texas and a 2011 law (S.B. 14) which did actualize assertive specific requirements for voting that could disproportionately appulse women because of the attitude of blind surnames afterwards marriage. However, S.B. 14 did not, in 2013, “prevent” women from voting outright, as the meme claimed. Nor did a 2017 adaptation of the photo ID law (S.B. 5.) “prevent” anyone from voting outright.
Rather, the photo ID law (in both its incarnations) meant voters whose names were altered on their photo IDs than on the aborigine rolls could still casting ballots provided they active affirmation affidavits and arrested a box labeled “Similar Name.”
The meme fabricated two added specific absolute claims. First, that a “voter agenda charge bout [a] bearing certificate.” This is inaccurate: Texas law requires that the name on a voter’s photo ID charge be at atomic essentially agnate to their name as listed on the aborigine roll. The voter’s bearing affirmation does not appear into the equation.
Second, the meme declared that “if a woman has been married, afar and re-married again she charge accompany both alliance certificates and annulment abstracts in adjustment to vote!” This is additionally false. In adjustment to casting a acclamation (i.e. “in adjustment to vote”) a aborigine whose aftermost name has afflicted charge alone assurance an affirmation swearing that they are the aforementioned being listed on the register, and analysis the box on their acclamation cardboard apparent “Similar Name.” There is no affirmation to present alliance certificates or annulment abstracts at polling stations.
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Published:23 October 2018
The Haunted Pen. “Lies Involving Voting in TX.” 29 October 2013.
Texas Legislature. “S.B. 14 — An Act Apropos to Requirements to Vote, Including Presenting Proof of Identification; Providing Criminal Penalties.” Texas Legislature. 27 May 2011.
U.S. Department of Justice. “About Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.” U.S. Department of Justice. 4 December 2017.
Savage, Charlie. “Justice Dept. Blocks Texas on Photo ID for Voting.” The New York Times. 12 March 2012.
Horwitz, Sari. “Texas Voter-ID Law Is Blocked.” The Washington Post. 30 August 2012.
U.S. Supreme Court. “Shelby County vs. Holder.” 25 June 2013.
Moore, Martha T. “State Aborigine ID Laws Snare Women with Name Changes.” USA Today. 30 October 2013.
Munson, Jonathan. “Voter ID Law May Cause Problems for Women Using Beginning Names.” KIII-TV. 31 October 2013.
Brennan Center for Justice. “Texas NAACP vs. Steen.” Brennan Center for Justice. 21 September 2018.
Texas Legislature. “S.B. 5 — An Act Apropos to Requiring a Aborigine to Present Proof of Identification; Providing a Criminal Penalty and Increasing a Criminal Penalty.” Texas Legislature. 1 June 2017.
Fernandez, Manny. “Texas’ Aborigine ID Law Does Not Discriminate and Can Stand, Appeals Panel Rules.” The New York Times. 27 April 2018.
The Appointment of the Texas Secretary of State, Elections Division. “Qualifying Voters on Acclamation Day — Handbook for Acclamation Board and Clerks, 2018.” The Appointment of the Texas Secretary of State, Elections Division. January 2018.
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