Blogs » Man Bites Dog » Election controversies not over yet


While Texas has cleared some major hurdles in this year’s election process -- primary election date and redistricting maps are set, candidate filing ends Friday -- another controversial obstacle is could soon be back in the public spotlight.

The measure involves a bill that requires voters to show their ID before casting their ballot. We may know by early next week whether this will be implemented for the May primary.

According to a report Wednesday by the Houston Chronicle, as many as 18 percent of all Texas registered voters do not have state government-issued photos IDs that match their voter registration cards. That means the state couldn't find matching photo IDs for 2.4 million of its 12.8 million registered voters, according to the Chronicle. That article pointed out that the law would mostly affect voters in 20 of the state’s majority-Hispanic counties.

Many Republicans say the law prevents voter fraud, while Democrats say it is intended to disenfranchise minority voters.

State Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Galena Park, a harsh critic of the law told the Chronicle the law would take Texas “back to the Jim Crow days."

“This is a disguise - smoke and mirrors for a poll tax for the elderly and the disabled, regardless of the race, and for those who are dependent on public transportation," he told the Chronicle.

However, Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, told the Chronicle it was a simple action,"the same requirement for a library card or boarding an airplane" to "maintain the integrity and fairness of our electoral system."

Under the Voting Rights Acts, Texas and other Southern states must have pre-approval by the Justice Department or a Washington, D.C.-based federal court before making election changes. If the law is approved, it could spark widespread complications for the upcoming presidential election as several million voters could be turned away. On the other hand, if the Justice Department says no, the controversy would not be over. Attorney General Greg Abbot filed suit in January to defend the law if the federal government denies preclearance.

The Justice Department’s deadline is April 8.

UPDATE: Click here to see what candidates filed in Victoria.