I successfully voted for President of the United States tonight without showing a photo ID. Perhaps some background is in order…
Last year, Texas passed a law that required voters to present photo ID to vote. A federal court later overturned the law, ruling that it would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens” on poor minority voters. Regardless of your views on whether this was a just ruling or not, this means voters do not have to present a photo ID to vote.
Other forms of identification are acceptable to vote, such as a utility bill. So with that in mind, I decided to test the response of the election workers to see if they had been properly instructed on the new law.
So with my water bill in hand, I handed it to the poll worker. She asked for photo ID. I replied that I was going to use my water bill as identification. The worker next to her asked if I had a driver’s license and I replied in the affirmative, but that for the purposes of voting I was going to use my utility bill. We went back and forth a couple more times until the original worker recalled that she had been told in training that using a utility bill was acceptable. One last attempt was made asking me for my driver’s license number, to which I declined. Eventually, I was allowed to vote.
To my surprise, I was then given the option of a paper ballot or an electronic vote. Of course, I chose paper since electronic voting has been found to be less than robust.
So what did I learn from this experience? Was this a vast right-wing conspiracy to deny me the right to vote by ignoring the judges’ ruling? No, I don’t think so–not for a moment. I think this was simply a case where the workers did not know how to account for the one individual who declined to show a photo ID, who did not follow the norm. It was a training issue. But that’s not to say this is not an important issue. Whether the intention is underhanded or not, I did feel pressured to show ID and that was not required by law.
Election integrity is important in all aspects, whether it is due to vulnerable electronic voting machines or a failure in process. People are just as important as technology and in no other area can this matter than in a democracy.