Texas' Restrictive Voter ID Law Stops A Former U.S. House Speaker From Getting A Voter ID Card

Restrictive Voter ID Law Snags Former House Speaker

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D-Texas) tried to get a voter identification card at a Texas Department of Public Safety office on Saturday.

But the only photo identification cards Wright has -- an expired Texas driver's license and a Texas Christian University faculty identification card -- do not satisfy the requirements of the state's restrictive vote identification law, passed in 2011. Wright is 90 years old.

“I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won’t dramatically reduce the number of people who vote,” Wright told the Star-Telegram on Saturday. “I think they will reduce the number to some extent.”

According to the Star-Telegram, Wright will return to the office Monday to get a Texas personal identification card with a certified copy of his birth certificate.

If Wright successfully obtains a personal ID card on Monday, he will be able to vote on Tuesday. But his assistant, Norma Ritchson, is worried other elderly citizens will face obstacles when trying to vote.

“I’ve been thinking about the people who are in retirement homes,” Ritchson said. “I’ve read that this is the lowest early voter turnout in a long time and I wonder if this [ID requirement] is the cause. We’ve tried so hard to make voting easy, and now the Texas Legislature has made it harder by making you have a photo ID.”

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) also ran into problems when attempting to cast an early vote last week. She is identified as Wendy Russell Davis on her driver's license, but listed as Wendy Davis in voter registration rolls. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate had to sign an affidavit of her identity to cast her vote.

And Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Davis' potential Republican challenger, had to sign an affidavit due to a similar issue. Abbott is identified as Gregory Wayne Abbott on his driver's license, but only Greg Abbott in his voter registration file. Abbott has defended the voter ID law in court.

CORRECTION: Former House Speaker Jim Wright was incorrectly referred to as a Republican. He is a member of the Democratic party.

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