You have already voted, the ballots either have been counted or are being re-counted, depending whether the LBJ School of Ballot Management is in charge. And you are celebrating another victory for democracy. As the Church Lady would say, “Well. aren’t you special.” That’s because you have all the necessary paraphernalia, appear prosperous and Anglo, and spent only 50 seconds at the ballot box to vote Republican.
But let me tell you my experience. I went to vote early. However, our cost-cutting Legislature wanted to hold down Early Election Day expenses by authorizing fewer polling places, so my closest early-day voting spot was moved to the next time zone. “Can I see some ID?” the poll pope asks. I pull out my Texas driver’s license. She frowns. “This is only a Texas driver’s license. What else you got?” Knowing that Texas now has the strictest voter barriers in the nation, I come prepared. I show my birth certificate, military ID and a photo of me draped in the American flag while holding the Constitution.
“Is this the same Constitution that guarantees freedom of the press and all those other nutty left-wing, commie-symp things?” she asks, adding: “You don’t mind if I get out this little pad. Fingerprinting. Can you spit into this dish? DNA, you know. Now hold up your right hand. Do you promise to only vote once, and vote the correct way?” This is confusing, and I’m not sure how Texas is running this election’s operation. The Supreme Court let stand a 5th Circuit Court ruling overturning a lower court’s reversal of an earlier decision which was upheld after officials reviewed the decision using instant replay. The new law excludes other previously accepted forms of ID, such as student identification and out-of-state or expired Texas drivers’ licenses.
The transparent effort behind all these laws is to keep minorities (read: Democrats) from voting. But it is argued, “You have to have a driver’s license or some kind of ID to get on an airplane, buy a car, cash a check.” Correct, but do you realize many of our fellow Texans have not been on airplane and never will. They don’t have a checking account. They don’t have a driver’s license because they don’t have a car. You think all those folks standing in the rain at the bus stop waiting to take the crosstown local so they can transfer to the uptown local and switch to the tram do so because they have a Maserati back home in the garage? Student identify cards are no good, either. That nullifies the young vote which is far more liberal than its parents.
Statistics prove this: The percentages of voters who don’t have matching IDs is three to four times higher in some black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. U.S. Census data show many don’t own motor vehicles. In addition, percentages of voters who lack the required photo IDs — or whose names on various IDs don’t match — remain higher than the state average in many border counties with a heavy Hispanic populations, i.e., Democrats. In Presidio County in the Big Bend, nearly a third of voters lack matching IDs, though Presidio has a permanent driver’s license office.
The poll pope smiles. “That doesn’t matter because the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue photo IDs to anyone who needs one to vote.” I ask: “How many have been issued so far – hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands?” She smiles again. “Actually, 295 or a little more than one for each Texas county.”
Earlier, according to press reports, it was estimated that 600,000 to 744,980 Texas voters still lacked government-issued photo IDs now required, according to state officials and the U.S. Department of Justice. Harris County alone still had more than 103,000 of the state’s “non-matching voters.” But now, according to Ross Ramsey in the Texas Tribune, the actual figure may be as high as 844,000. Ramsey reports that a small circle of Texas GOP leaders knew of this higher figure back during the legislative debates but. didn’t tell any others for obvious reasons. If that higher total is true, it could change the makeup of our officeholders. Rick Perry beat Bill White in the 2010 governor’s race by 631,086 votes.
“Just fill out this 67-page questionnaire and that’s it,” says the poll pope. “Here’s an example. ‘Do you feel women should wear burkas after age 12, 16 or 18? Is global warming caused by burning too many heretics? Should the NRA have a direct veto in Congress or simply continue to call in its orders?’ Use back of form if necessary and take your time. We’re open tomorrow, too. I know, all of this may seem unnecessary, but we’ve got to protect the purity of the Texas election system. There are all sorts of bad people out there who would like to corrupt our voting process through fraud.” I reply that I couldn’t agree more. Just how many voter fraud convictions have there been in Texas from, say, 2002 to 2012? She replies: “There have been 18 convictions, no-contest pleas or guilty pleas.” I answer: “There are 13,594,264 registered voters in Texas and in 10 years’ worth of elections at all levels from school board to governor there have been fewer than two fraud convictions a year? We execute more than that.”
She pulls out a sheet of paper. “If you don’t want to fill out that questionnaire, just take this list into the voting booth and vote for these candidates, if you get my drift. Or, to save time, vote the straight ticket.” I reply, “Actually, I’m an independent, and I didn’t check my brain in at the door. The whole nation can see what you are doing here. It is so obvious, so transparent, with these straw men cases of fraud and voter IDs, that you are making a mockery of honest government. So just let me vote.”
Ashby writes-in at email@example.com