After the Shelby v Holder Decision - States Change Voting Laws -- Texas 5

As previously mentioned, many believe the newly instituted voter ID law will have the greatest effect on female voters. There were two separate instances attributed to the new law that presented difficulties to notable women when they attempted to vote that was publicized by the mainstream media.

The first noteworthy case involved Texas District Judge Sandra Watts. Watts had been re-elected for her judgeship to the District Court in 2010. In that election she ran unopposed.

After regularly voting without incident for five decades, she came upon a situation which almost had her disqualified from doing so again. On Oct 22, during early voting in the 2013 election, attempting to cast her vote she was flagged for the possibility of attempting to carry out voter fraud, the reason being that her current Texas driver's license has her maiden name listed as her middle name. Her voter registration form displays the middle name she was born with. In 49 years of voting, this was the first instance where a problem arose. "What I have used for voter registration and for identification for the last 52 years was not sufficient yesterday when I went to vote," said Judge Watts. She was permitted to vote, but was first required to sign a voter affidavit for the reason of confirming her identity as being authentic. The only other alternative for female voters in a comparable situation is to have provisional ballots filed which are not counted until at least a week after the election has been completed after they return with flawless proof of identity, six days later.

The next instance that caused media attention was when state Senator Wendy Davis who is now a candidate in the 2014 Texas gubernatorial race encountered similar problems.

Her driver's license has her name as Wendy Russell Davis but voter registration records listed her as Wendy Davis.  According to the new law's requirements, that wasn't good enough even though she was well known in addition to being a state Senator. The law clearly states that the names have to be exactly the same on each of the documents. In order to exercise her constitutional right to vote, she was then required to sign an affidavit as well as showing her valid picture ID.  

Davis gained national attention in June 2013 when she presented a thirteen-hour filibuster in her fight to protect abortion rights and stall a bill that would close almost all of the clinics that performed legal abortion in Texas. The bill was successfully stalled by her filibuster that forced the vote for it to be held moments after the deadline. The filibuster included frenzied scenes lasting into the early hours of the following morning. By that time, hundreds of thousands of individuals were following the live events on social media networks and Davis had become the darling of those searching for a star.

The State's proposals called for abortions in the State to be forbidden after 20 weeks. It also would force operating abortion clinics to upgrade their facilities to be equivalently classified as surgical centers. Additionally, doctors working at these facilities would have to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles. The law's passing would have mandated thirty-seven of the State's forty-two clinics to close, unable to immediately meet all the new requirements, charged by adversaries of the law, making it extremely challenging for women living in rural areas to obtain an abortion. However the bill was passed nearly three weeks later when the Legislature was called back for a new special session in a vote of 19-11. It was then signed into law by Governor Rick Perry.

After her epic filibuster that delayed a vote but in finality was passed by a special session of the Legislature, Davis announced her candidacy for governor of Texas in what many admit will be an uphill climb. With Governor Rick Perry announcing that he won't seek another term, her opponent will be Attorney General Greg Abbott, who made the announcement of his own bid for the seat in July.

As it stands, Texas is controlled by the Republicans and the newly drawn maps make changing that status a challenging proposition. Democrats in the State typically get a very low share of the Caucasian vote, and although the demographic has been rapidly changing, minority voters haven't been able to assist in closing the gap although Democrats have long spoken about shifting the balance of power, indicating the State's rapidly growing Hispanic population.

Davis admits that gerrymandering has shifted the political advantage to the G.O.P and moved the dialogue to the far right. She also made mention of the low voter participation rate, laying blame on Abbott, saying he "has done everything he can, actually, to suppress that as much as possible."

At the time of the completion of this article, the election is nine months off and current statistics show Abbot with a sizeable advantage. But recent polls have shown that Davis has steadily been closing the gap.

Click here to return to page 1

Click here to read the 2013 article titled: The Effects on Voting Laws after the Shelby v Holder Supreme Court Ruling - 1