Just in case you've forgotten, you don't need a photo ID to vote in Texas. Republicans did push a measure through the Legislature last year requiring exactly that, but the law was challenged and ultimately put on hold in August by a federal court, which concluded the rule would effectively disenfranchise many poor, minority voters.
Not everyone got that memo, as the Morning News Wayne Slater learned over the weekend when he showed up to early vote in Williamson County, where he lives. Slater detailed his experience in a blog post and column for the paper.
I entered my early-voting polling place last weekend at the Georgetown Parks & Recreation office. I showed the supervisor, Peggy, my utility bill from the city of Georgetown bearing my name and address. Peggy looked over her glasses at me with disapproval.
Peggy: "Do you have a driver's license?"
Me: "This is what I'm giving you for identification."
Peggy: "We prefer a voter-registration card or a driver's license. There's a list of identifications starting with registration card, driver's license, picture ID -- we prefer to go in that order."
Me: "Does that mean, Peggy, that I can't vote with this?"
At that point, she got up, turned around and began leafing through a booklet with the state law. Another supervisor scurried over. Peggy said I wasn't producing a photo ID.
He looked quickly at my utility bill and said, "That looks fine."
Peggy responded: "It has to be a current utility bill."
He looked over the bill. It was current. "This looks fine," he said.
Peggy then punched my name in the computer and announced that I'm not a registered voter. I have a current registration card so I know I'm registered. The second supervisor came back and looked over the screen. Peggy had mistyped my name. He pointed out the error. She fixed it. I voted.
But Slater only gives one side of the story. For the other, we turn to the Williamson County Sun, which identified the poll worker in question as Peggy Moore and gave her the opportunity to give her version of events.
Moore doesn't dispute any of the facts in Slater's piece, opting instead for the ever-handy ad hominem attack.
In an interview with the Sun, Ms. Moore said Mr. Slater was rude and obviously came into the polling place with an agenda.
'He walked through not as a happy camper,' Ms. Moore said. 'He was very intimidating to the staff. He raised his voice. Threw his bill on the counter. He was not interested in answers -- he was trying to make a point.'
In an email to Unfair Park Slater denies being a dick ("I never raised my voice or tried to be intimidating any way. I was direct and serious, but even-keel the whole time."), though he admits to having something of an agenda.
"The only agenda I had was to see if poll workers in my county were following the law," he writes. "We're in this in-between period right now with the photo-ID law in abeyance but some folks pressing the idea that it's required."
As far as agendas go, that one's pretty hard to find fault with. People like Moore serve as gatekeepers to the polls. The point Slater makes in his column and restates in his email is that less knowledgeable voters -- immigrants, the poor, the elderly -- could very easily be intimidated and turned away by people like Moore which, whatever one thinks of voter ID, is against the law.
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