This year, I voted in Texas for the first time. It was complicated.
Registering to vote was simple enough. The post office had a form I could print out with my personal information and change of address. Because I don’t own a car, I had to Lyft to the Bexar County Elections Department and turn in my registration. Although I was more than a week ahead of the deadline, the sheer number of new registrations meant that I was not in the system until weeks after the deadline had passed. I was able to check online and see that I was registered, although my registration card did not arrive until several weeks later.
Obtaining an ID was another matter. Texas has one of the strictest voter-ID laws in the country. It is very selective about which IDs are valid—the Republican-controlled state legislature determined that military IDs and gun licenses are fine, but employee and student IDs are not—and to vote I would have to obtain a Texas state ID. I could get a driver’s license if I turned in my license from Washington, D.C., from where I’d recently moved, and as long as I brought proof of citizenship, proof of my Social Security number, proof of identity, and proof of residency. So I brought along my passport, W-2s, bank statement, insurance statement, phone bill, and D.C. driver’s license. The employee at the Texas Department of Public Safety who signed the piece of paper that would serve as my temporary license was named “Borders”; he made a joke about not crossing him.