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Monday, December 5, 2016

The Republican defense of laws requiring identification to vote usually goes like this: “Who doesn’t have ID? And why can’t they get it?”

They’re forced to this defense because they can’t point to one election in modern American history that was swung by the phantom scourge of in-person voting fraud. They know they can’t because the Bush administration tried to find one for years and couldn’t.

These questions are rhetorical, because any serious attempt to answer them indicts the effort to make voting more difficult.

Who doesn’t have voter ID?

In 2012, “the state admitted that between 603,892 and 795,955 registered in voters in Texas lacked government-issued photo ID, with Hispanic voters between 46.5 percent to 120 percent more likely than whites to not have the new voter ID,” according to The Nation‘s Ari Berman.

And why can’t they get it?

The laws purposely make it difficult to get IDs. In Texas, residents had to pay a minimum of $22 to get the necessary documentation at a government office, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. “Counties with a significant Hispanic population are less likely to have a DMV office, while Hispanic residents in such counties are twice as likely as whites to not have the new voter ID (Hispanics in Texas are also twice as likely as whites to not have a car),” Berman points out.

But Texas’s law doesn’t only make it more difficult for Latinos to vote, it also places an undue burden on one specific gender. Guess which one!

The New Civil Rights Movement‘s Jean Ann Esselink explains:

As of November 5, Texans must show a photo ID with their up-to-date legal name. It sounds like such a small thing, but according to the Brennan Center for Justice, only 66 percent of voting age women have ready access to a photo document that will attest to proof of citizenship. This is largely because young women have not updated their documents with their married names, a circumstance that doesn’t affect male voters in any significant way. Suddenly 34 percent of women voters are scrambling for an acceptable ID, while 99 percent of men are home free.

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