People For the American Way Foundation

Confusion, purge lead to low turnout in Texas primary

Last May, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed SB 14 into law. An ALEC award-winner himself, Governor Perry had the support of several ALEC members and others who pushed the legislation. Together they made Texas a photo ID state.

Then the DOJ issued an official objection that stopped the law from going into effect, saying that it disproportionately affects Hispanic voters. Not only is Texas defending the law but Attorney General Greg Abbott has amended the state’s complaint with a direct challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The AG has also dropped his objection to taking depositions from state lawmakers.

Though it remains tied up in court, the effects of the law have already been felt statewide, especially surrounding the May 29 primary. KSAT:

The turnout for early voting was meager, some say because many are confused about what kind, if any, identification is needed to cast a ballot.

Many lawmakers and elected officials called the situation a "crisis" and said they are concerned people are getting the wrong message about voting in the Texas primary.

"I spoke with a senior citizen who said she may not vote because she was confused," State Rep. Sylvester Turner said.

In reality, voters need only have proved residency by showing their registration card, driver’s license, passport, or utility bill.

A voter purge similar to that occurring in Florida is also thought to have contributed to the low turnout. Houston Chronicle:

State and federal laws require the nation’s voter rolls be regularly reviewed and cleaned to remove duplicates and eliminate voters who moved away or died. But across Texas, such "removals" rely on outdated computer programs, faulty procedures and voter responses to generic form letters, often resulting in the wrong people being sent cancellation notices, including new homeowners, college students, Texans who work abroad and folks with common names, a Chronicle review of cancellations shows.

Click here for more information, and be sure to check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.


112th Congress, ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, Department of Justice, DOJ, Greg Abbott, Policy Corner, public policy, Rick Perry, voter ID, Voter Registration, voter suppression, voting rights