Early Voting begins in Texas today and today we take a look at some stories surrounding Election 2014. Here is your Morning Brief for October 20, 2014.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Voter ID Stands... For Now

The United States Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Texas' Voter ID Law to stand for the upcoming midterm elections. According to the Dallas Morning News, it was a divided Supreme Court.

A divided Supreme Court early Saturday morning let a new Texas voter ID law take effect.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent, saying the court’s action “risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.”

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.

The court’s order was an interim move addressing emergency applications filed Wednesday, and a trial judge’s ruling striking down the law will still be appealed. But the Supreme Court’s action set the ground rules for the current election. Early voting starts Monday, which helps explain the court’s rush to issue the order as soon as Ginsburg had finished her dissent.

The law, enacted in 2011, requires voters seeking to cast their ballots at the polls to present photo identification like a Texas driver’s or gun license, a military ID or a passport.

Those requirements, Ginsburg wrote, “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.”

“A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic,” she noted, adding that “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.”

Criticizing numbers

Texas officials quarreled with Ginsburg’s math, which was drawn from evidence presented to a trial court. In their brief urging the justices to allow the election to proceed under the 2011 law, they said that trying to determine the number of people the law would deter from voting was a fool’s errand and called the estimate of 600,000 disenfranchised voters preposterous.

Ginsburg also said the law “replaced the previously existing voter identification requirements with the strictest regime in the country.”

She noted that Texas would not accept several forms of ID that Wisconsin did, including “a photo ID from an in-state four-year college and one from a federally recognized Indian tribe.” The Supreme Court on Oct. 9 refused to let Wisconsin use its voter ID law in the current election.

Texans who lack a required form of identification cannot easily obtain it, Ginsburg wrote. “More than 400,000 eligible voters face round-trip travel times of three hours or more to the nearest” government office issuing IDs, she wrote, and they must generally present a certified birth certificate.

Birth certificates ordinarily cost $22. The state offers cheaper ones, costing $2 to $3, for election purposes, Ginsburg wrote, but it has not publicized that option on the relevant website or on forms for requesting birth certificates.

“Even at $2, the toll is at odds with this court’s precedent,” she wrote, citing a 1966 decision striking down Virginia’s poll tax.

The Texas law was at first blocked under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which required some states and localities with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedure. After the Supreme Court in 2013 effectively struck down Section 5 in an Alabama case, Texas officials announced they would start enforcing the ID law.

Multiple challenges

The law has been challenged by an array of individuals, civil rights groups and the Obama administration.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement Saturday criticizing the outcome.

“It is a major step backward to let stand a law that a federal court, after a lengthy trial, has determined was designed to discriminate,” he said. “It is true we are close to an election, but the outcome here that would be least confusing to voters is the one that allowed the most people to vote lawfully.”

After a two-week trial in September, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi struck down the law on Oct. 9 in a 147-page opinion. She said it had been adopted “with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” created “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote” and amounted to a poll tax.

Two days later, Ramos entered an injunction blocking the law in the current election. The question for the justices was what to do about that injunction while appeals proceed.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told the Supreme Court that Ramos had acted too closely to the election and had “unsettled a status quo that had prevailed for 15 months and governed numerous elections without a hitch.”

He accused his adversaries of litigation gamesmanship in not seeking a preliminary injunction while the case was moving forward in the trial court. A ruling on such an interim injunction, he said, would have allowed an orderly appeal.


Remember, this isn't the end for Voter ID. The Supreme Court is allowing the law to stand for now, which is the right call. I believe that in the end, the Court will rule in favor of Voter ID for Texas.

You can read the full story by clicking on the link above.

Early Voting Begins

Early Voting begins today in Texas and according to the Dallas Morning News, both Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis will be launching massive efforts to get people out to the polls.

Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis have bickered over issues, staged two debates and watched as their staffs constantly sniped at each other for months. They’ve made appeals to women, minorities and other groups.

Now, the real fight to become Texas’ next governor begins.

Starting Monday, Texans can vote early for two weeks, and both campaigns are launching extensive efforts to push friendly voters to the polls. The candidates’ voter turnout operations, developed largely outside public view, are the last bastion of pure politics.

Abbott’s and Davis’ ground skirmish is being waged from the urban core to the sprawling suburbs — the cozy small towns and rural farms. And each has specific plans and goals for pulling down big totals from North Texas, with Dallas County a key battleground.

The results have implications beyond their contest. They will be a barometer on what progress Democrats have made toward being competitive statewide.

If Abbott soundly defeats Davis, Republicans could control the state for the foreseeable future. If Davis comes close or pulls off an unlikely upset, it would signal a new era in Texas politics and certify Texas as a swing state.

“Wendy Davis has to change what the pie looks like. They are trying to throw off the math by getting Hispanic voters and new voters to show up at the polls,” said Texas political consultant Vinny Minchillo, who worked for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. “Voter turnout is important for Greg Abbott as well. He has a big lead but must make sure he’s driving his voters to the polls.”

Davis hopes her field plan will overcome Abbott’s advantage in the polls and deliver the governor’s mansion to her party for the first time since 1990. She touts her voter turnout program as the “most significant field operation that state has ever seen.”

But Abbott, the Texas attorney general, has enjoyed a significant structural edge in the race. For the past two decades in Texas, vastly more Republicans have voted than Democrats, so his get-out-the vote machine doesn’t need to fire on all cylinders for him to become governor.

In two decades of Republican dominance, the Texas parties have changed. The GOP has become more conservative, while Democrats have primarily become a party of blacks, Hispanics and progressive women. White men have nearly vanished from the party.

So the realities of the Texas political scene dictate that Davis develop a strategy to energize minority voters while appealing to those seen as less than steadfast Republicans.

The state senator from Fort Worth has partnered with Battleground Texas, a Democratic group started by veterans of President Barack Obama’s campaigns, for a grass-roots strategy. A big portion of her campaign cash has been dedicated to a robust field operation.

Battleground Texas has been in place since 2013 and wants to be in the state for the long haul. It has volunteers across the state who are using 348 staging centers in their communities. These mini-field operations are in homes, garages and small businesses.

The group’s 2014 mission is to lure persuadable voters in places like Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson. The hope is that they will move not only new voters and independents to the polls but also “lost Democrats” who often fall out of the reach of Democratic field operations because they don’t live in minority areas.

“At the end of the day, this is about volunteers who are making change in their communities,” said Jenn Brown, executive director of Battleground Texas. “They’re the ones making sure their friends and neighbors have their voices heard at the ballot box this November.”

Meanwhile, the job of mobilizing black and Hispanic voters has fallen to local parties and some down-ballot candidates across the state. The political arm of the Texas Organizing Project is also working in minority neighborhoods.

Dallas County, controlled by Democrats since 2006, is a microcosm of Davis’ strategy. Local Democratic Party Chairwoman Darlene Ewing and her forces are appealing to the Democratic base, as are candidates like County Judge Clay Jenkins, who has more than $300,000 in campaign cash. He plans to spend it turning out core Democratic voters.

The Davis campaign has been an absolute disaster since day 1. Both POLITICO and the USA Today have criticized her campaign. I predict that she will lose to Abbott by about 10-13 points.

You can read the full story by clicking on the link above.

Other Must Read Links:

Lubbock City Council May Ban Smoking This Week

Texas Tech Wide Receiver Involved in Off-Campus Incident

Wendy Davis and the Ever-Longer Odds

Ebola May Be the Disaster of Our Generation 

Texas Breaks Record for Jobs Added 

Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Dems 

Ferguson Police Officer Speaks 

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.

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