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Hey, remember how cool it was when Texas's terrible 2011 voter ID law was overturned as a violation of the Voting Rights Act back in July? The Justice Department and the state reached a compromise in August, allowing people to vote even if their state-issued ID was expired, or if they could otherwise prove they were eligible voters. Voters would simply have to sign a sworn affidavit stating they'd had trouble getting their documents together before the election.

Oh, but here's a surprise! Texas officials, including state Attorney General Ken Paxton and Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, then warned that anyone filling out one of those affidavits just might be subject to criminal investigation, to make damn sure they weren't hiding a valid ID somewhere and trying to vote:

Stanart says he will investigate everyone who signs that form to assure they are not lying.

"If I suspect someone has fraudulently signed a form saying they don't have that ID, then I think that's an issue," he said. "You can't skip around the photo ID requirement. It's an oath that people are signing. Whether anything happens, that's up to the [Harris County District Attorney's Office]."

Poll workers wouldn't be told to turn anyone away, but Stanart promised to check every single affidavit against drivers license records, so if someone swore an affadavit but had had a valid ID at any point in the past, his office would turn them over to the DA for prosecution.

That seems like a really smart way to use public resources to protect the integrity of the vote -- or to scare away from the polls anyone who's misplaced their wallet or otherwise lost their ID.

“If you sign that affidavit and you lie about not being able to get a photo ID, you can be prosecuted for perjury,” Paxton told Fox News on Aug. 18.

The judge who oversaw the August agreement refused to hear a challenge claiming that Stanart and Paxton were intimidating voters. Stanart has played up his Git Tuff On Voter Fraud credentials, warning of dire consequences for anyone who tries to vote wrong, and YOU PEOPLE KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Never mind studies showing in-person voter fraud is virtually nonexistent; in 14 years, one study found just 31 instances of possible voter impersonation out of a billion ballots cast.

“One is more likely to see the tooth fairy standing next to Santa Claus at the voting booth,” says national NAACP president Cornell William Brooks.

The real danger, Brooks argues, is that Texas voters who don’t have ID and are nervous about making a mistake by signing an affidavit -- including people whose driver’s licenses have been lost or stolen -- may stay home. “You have elected officials on the eve of this election openly expressing a commitment to suppress the vote. You can’t regard it as anything else,” Brooks says. “We have every reason to be very, very concerned.”

Yeah, but if Those People really cared about voting, they wouldn't be so careless, now would they?

In another motion, the NAACP and additional plaintiffs did at least win a ruling that the state's information campaign about changes to the voter-ID law had to use phrasing that would encourage people to vote if they're eligible; even that minor change was too much for Texas, which has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, although the appeal, if accepted, wouldn't be heard until after the election in November.

Just to add to the fun, the Department of Justice has also sued Harris County over allegations that polling places for a May 2016 special elections didn't comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, a claim that good ol' Stan Stanart also dismisses:

“We don’t think that there’s any voters that cannot get into our polling places,” says Stanart.

He brushes off the legal tussles as routine election-year noise. “There’s always somebody out there complaining about something,” he says. With regard to the voter ID law, he adds: “If someone is lying purposefully, don’t you think that we have laws and we should uphold them?”

Dude, when it comes to Texas, voting, and minorities, it's pretty much never the voters anyone needs to be suspicious of.

[Bloomberg Politics / Houston Press / Texas Tribune]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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