Thanks to Wendy Davis' leadership, thousands of people who would have been turned away from the polls this week were still able to vote. Unfortunately, Republicans, including State Elections Director Keith Ingram, are blaming her leadership for the complications that have arisen due to their discriminatory Voter ID law.
As the Lone Star Project reported earlier this week, Director Ingram specifically blamed Senator Davis in a response to a grievance filed by a Texas voter. This is obviously not the kind of leadership we should see from our State Elections Director, a position that serves all Texans, not just the governor (Rick Perry) who appointed him.
In the politically-charged letter, Ingram lies in saying that the Voter ID law only changed the way people with maiden names voted in "one important respect," referring to the affidavit. He then mentions Senator Wendy Davis by name, and describes her amendment. In purposeful oversight, our State Elections Director chose not to include that before the Davis amendment, people whose names did not match precisely with what was on the voter rolls would be denied the right to vote altogether. What Wendy Davis provided as a solution to the Voter ID law problem, Republicans are now trying to spin as an additional burden - even though they introduced this unnecessary law in the first place.
Before serving as the State Elections Director, Ingram worked several years in Governor Perry's appointment office. His thinking hasn't shifted from his previous, hyper-partisan position. The Republican party chairman of Texas is also on board with the blame-game, saying Senator Davis is to blame for any hassles with the affidavits: "It reinforces our argument from the start that there isn't any valid reason not to have voter ID," Steve Munisteri said. They are decidedly overlooking the fact that their own gubernatorial candidate was saved by Wendy Davis' amendment.
Also in the letter, Ingram explains the "inconvenience" of linking the affidavit language to a box on the combination form the voter has to initial when they sign in, but makes no mention of the inconvenience implementing an entire new set of voting procedures has been Texas counties who have received no guidance in implementing these strict measures.
"Texas has the most strict ID of the entire country...we have no implementation plan and very little time to get ready for the November 5th election." Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said about how the State of Texas has approached implementing the law. In Travis County, about one-fifth of early voters had to initial an affidavit because the name on their ID was only substantially similar to what was on the voter rolls.
The Lone Star Project reached out to national voting rights and election expert J. Gerald Hebert to have him weigh in on Ingram's letter. In a memo response, Hebert states that Ingram's letter is "grossly inaccurate" and that it "appears to be an intentional effort to mislead the voter and to improperly criticize Senator Davis." Mr. Hebert goes on to restate the true purpose of Davis' amendment:
"Adoption of the amendment was necessary because the language in the Voter ID bill was so restrictive that if a voter's name as it appeared on their ID differed even slightly from their name on the voter roll, they could be denied the right to cast a ballot altogether or would be forced to cast a provisional ballot, which cannot be counted unless the voter returns after the election with clarifying evidence confirming their identification.
Rather than adding an administrative burden, the amendment sponsored by Senator Davis and unanimously adopted prevents widespread disenfranchisement of Texas voters, including the voter who filed the complaint with the Texas Secretary of State's office."
Conservatives are working hard to rewrite their own history of disenfranchising Texans. Threatened by Wendy Davis, the far-right has resorted to making desperate attempts to blame their long history of wrongdoings on one woman.