Voter ID laws are meant to prevent devious fraudsters from rigging elections. Legendary Texas politician and former Speaker of the House Jim Wright was probably not the kind of person meant to get entangled in the law's bureaucracy.
"Nobody was ugly to us, but they insisted that they wouldn’t give me an ID," the 90-year-old Wright told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The career politician was denied a voter ID card when he went to a Texas Department of Public Safety office ahead of a state election on Tuesday. Wright's expired driver's license and Texas Christian University faculty ID didn't meet standards to receive a State of Texas Election Identification Certificate, though, so he's set to return with his birth certificate on Tuesday. DPS officials promised him that would be enough.
But the difficulty Wright faced worries him. "I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won’t dramatically reduce the number of people who vote," Wright said. "I think they will reduce the number to some extent."
After the Supreme Court repealed Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas announced its plan to move forward with the a new voter ID law that would be "the most stringent in the country," the legality of which is still being questioned by the Justice Department. But Justice has to prove the law was written to prevent a certain race from voting. Of course, Wright is a Democrat, exactly the type of person Texas Republicans claim the law was meant to discriminate against.
But so far the strict voter ID law nearly denied multiple Texas politicians the right to vote. Attorney General Greg Abbott, gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, and State Senator Leticia Van de Putte were nearly turned away because their names on state IDs, like their driver's license, don't match their names on voting records, which are usually more casual.
[Top: House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas, left, and House Minority Leader Robert Michel of Illinois speak to reporters outside the White House in Washington, Aug. 5, 1987 after they met with President Reagan.]
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.