This is a news item I missed, and it’s making steam come out of my ears. An estimated 600,000 Texas voters – the population of a big city! – though registered to vote, won’t be able to because they cannot meet photo-identification requirements set out in the state’s new voter-ID law, SB14 . It’s the strictest voter ID law in the country and you know why those fuckers in Texas passed it.
It was justified by Governor Rick Perry and the Republican chiefs in the state legislature as a means of combatting electoral fraud in a state where in the past 10 years some 20m votes have been cast, yet only two cases of voter impersonation have been prosecuted to conviction.
Earlier this month a federal district judge, Nelva Gonzales Ramos, struck down the law, slamming it as a cynical ploy on the part of Republicans to fend off the growing strength of the minority electorate in Texas by “suppressing the overwhelmingly Democratic votes of African Americans and Latinos”. She linked SB14 to a long history of racial discrimination in state elections spanning back generations, and declared the new law to be an unconstitutional poll tax.
There used to be a law against that – the Voting Rights Act – but I guess it doesn’t apply in Texas.
But last week, in the early hours of 18 October, when most Texans were sleeping, the US supreme court snuck out a one-line judgment that allowed the voter ID restrictions to be applied this election cycle. Without any explanation, a majority of the justices effectively threw Eric Kennie and many thousands of others like him – particularly black, Hispanic and low-income Texans – into a state of democratic limbo.
“This is the first time the courts have allowed a law that actually keeps people from voting to go into effect, even though a judge found it was passed for the purpose of making it harder for minorities to vote,” said Wendy Weiser, head of the democracy programme at the Brennan Centre for Justice.
The Guardian has heartbreaking stories to illustrate how this affects people. I’m out of time, so read the stories.