Don’t Drive? It’s Getting Harder to Vote in Texas

Today is the first federal general election since the Supreme Court struck down key portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Texas and other states have taken full advantage of their new ability to make changes to their voting rights laws without federal approval. And under the new law, people without a driver’s license are finding themselves disenfranchised.

Without a valid Texas drivers license, many registered voters are finding themselves disenfranchised. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/athrasher/2965451844/in/photolist-95cxQr-9JAy66-5zoGVG-95CyRJ-i5e3jX-5w3KvS-gTKTdq-a7wMAT-5w3Hw5-5vYuX4-aj7BCv-9YMp3r-an2x1D-8JnnQC-6SCqom-a4Vc83-91T9Fk-5zsqey-4tpFtF-4ttMMS-awvHe-5xBjcC-5zo8Eg-4z6vEw-4z6vAj-5w3Xrf-5vYq4c-5w3GJS-drahms-4tpJVa-aww8h-4wg3qj-4wg3xQ-4twvxe-27YQW-4z6vDo-aww3m-4z2gm8-5wakHY-5w5ZQt-5wam81-5w5ZAK-5w5Zox-5w5ZYP-5wakZ7-c49ttG-4w6g5e-8QaPFi-4twvki-4twvmk##Andy/flickr##
Without a valid Texas drivers license, many registered voters are finding themselves disenfranchised. Photo: Andy/Flickr

The Brennan Center for Justice has gathered stories of would-be voters who have been frustrated at the polls over the past few days of early voting. Poll workers are even turning away people who have ID, just not a current Texas driver’s license.

Voter ID laws like the one causing so much trouble in Texas today disproportionately disenfranchise people who don’t drive, the Brennan Center has previously reported [PDF]. People without a license may have a hard time getting to the necessary offices to obtain the paperwork they need to exercise their voting rights. And many of the offices issuing the IDs are located well outside the reach of transit.

When states were enacting the recent wave of voter ID laws in 2012, Streetsblog contributor Fran Taylor warned, “The implications are clear: If you don’t drive, you become a second-class citizen.” In states where the political landscape is already tilted against people who can’t afford a car, participating in the democratic process is getting harder.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Voter ID Laws Marginalize People Without a Car

|
Sustainable transportation advocates may read news headlines about new voter ID laws, roll their eyes at the prejudices of red-state legislators, and turn the page — at their own peril. This seemingly unrelated issue may have far-reaching consequences for transportation policy. New state laws mandating photo ID for voters threaten to disenfranchise nondrivers, and the […]

One Man’s Push to Require Bike Licenses in Oregon

|
Strange news out of Oregon: Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland is reporting on one local businessman’s effort to require additional licensing for cyclists — something that could have a real dampening effect on “America’s Bike Capital.” Maus recently spoke with the the lead proponent of licensing requirement: Buoyed by support from across the state, Portlander […]

As Youth Driver Licensing Dips Again, A Focus on the Millennials

|
Tony Dutzik is senior policy analyst with Frontier Group, a non-profit public policy think tank. In 2011, the percentage of 16-to-24 year olds with driver’s licenses dipped to another new low. Just over two-thirds of these young Americans (67 percent) were licensed to drive in 2011, based on the latest licensing data from the Federal […]