No Thank You For Your Service

Texas's brand new, draconian voter ID law just forced an election judge to turn a 93-year-old veteran away from the polls.

Election Judge Had To Turn Away 93-Year-Old Veteran Due To Strict Voter ID Law

Election Day is a week away, but across the country hundreds of thousands of Americans are heading to the polls to vote early. Early voting is a fantastic electoral reform: it makes the process of casting a ballot more accessible to those who lack the flexibility to vote (and in many cases wait in long lines) on the Election Day. This year, early voting also marks when draconian new voter ID laws are tested for the first time. And in at least one case so far, the results have not been good.

At ThinkProgress, Emily Atkin spoke with election judge William Parsley in Houston, Texas who told of having to turn one man away from the polls:

“An elderly man, a veteran. Ninety-three years old,” Parsley, an election judge for the last 15 years, told ThinkProgress. “His license had expired.”

Under Texas’ new voter ID law, one of the strictest in the nation, citizens are required to present one of seven forms of photo identification to vote. The identification can be a Texas-issued driver’s license, a federally-issued veteran’s ID card, or a gun registration card, among other forms. Licenses can be expired, but not for more than 60 days.

The man Parsley said he had to turn away was a registered voter, but his license had been expired for a few years, likely because he had stopped driving. Parsley said the man had never gotten a veteran’s identification card. And though he had “all sorts” of other identification cards with his picture on it, they weren’t valid under the law — so the election judges told him he had to go to the Department of Public Safety, and renew his license.

“He just felt real bad, you know, because he’s voted all his life,” Parsley said.

The Supreme Court ruled on October 18 that Texas could implement its controversial voter ID law during this election. In a dissent to the ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the law seemed “purposefully discriminatory,” making voting harder for low-income, minority, and elderly populations. Ginsburg cited the fact that there were “only two in-person voter fraud cases prosecuted to conviction in Texas” from 2002 until 2011, while an estimated 600,000 voters, mostly black and Latino, could be disenfranchised as a consequence of the new law.

Just six days into early voting, it appears the Lone Star state is starting to reap what it sowed.

BOTTOM LINE: A 93-year-old veteran turned away from the polls exemplifies exactly what happens when lawmakers erect more barriers to voting. As the leading democracy of the world, our voting system should be free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Americans — including of course those who have served to protect us. Instead, unfair voting laws are being passed by politicians like those in Texas who are trying to manipulate the system for their own benefit — because they are afraid of what the voters have to say.

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