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New Voter ID Law Forces Governor Candidate Wendy Davis To Sign Affidavit To Vote

Add gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis to the growing list of women who are having problems voting because of Texas' new photo ID law.

Davis, a Democratic state senator, was voting early in Fort Worth on Monday when poll workers made her sign an affidavit to verify her identity.


Her photo ID -- a driver's license -- included her maiden name, Wendy Russell Davis. But voter registration records listed her as Wendy Davis.

Davis used the incident as an opportunity to tell the media who had gathered that women who have had name changes may be discouraged about voting. Election Day is Nov. 5.

A new law being enforced for the first time requires a voter show a valid photo ID that includes the voter’s name exactly as it appears on the elections department’s registration list. A 2011 state legislative decision requires Texans to show valid photo IDs at the polls for the first time. KERA reported on the matter last week.

The Dallas Morning News reported over the weekend that some voters in Dallas and around the state are encountering hiccups with the new photo ID law.

The Texas Secretary of State's office says that if the name on the photo ID doesn't match exactly but is  “substantially similar” to the name on the registered voters' list, a voter will be permitted to vote as long as the voter signs an affidavit stating that the voter is the same person on the list of registered voters.

Davis was only asked to initial a box on an official election document at the polling place.

“My voter registration card did not exactly match the driver’s license,” Davis said Monday after casting her ballot. “My driver’s license has my maiden name on it. My voter registration certificate does not. I was required to sign an affidavit demonstrating I am the person who is on the voter registration card.”

'They'll be turned away'

But Davis is concerned that women who’ve married or divorced and have changed their last names will have to go home and bring back additional documentation, such as marriage or divorce certificates.

Davis said: "That’s my greatest concern -- that women will show up to vote [and] they’ll be turned away because they don’t have that documentation and that women will be disenfranchised as a consequence of the interpretation of the voter ID law as it’s been applied.”

The Tarrant County elections supervisor, Steve Raborn, says extra documentation shouldn't be necessary. Election workers have been trained to look for additional verification on the photo ID if a woman's last name has changed significantly.

“Even changes of name for whatever reason -- marriage or divorce -- they can use things like the address, and date of birth and the photo to verify the identity, so we aren’t expecting any difficulty,” Raborn said.

ID law: Voter fraud vs. disenfranchisement

Concern about how the new law affects women has gained traction now that Davis is in the race for governor.

Her leading Republican opponent,Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, supports the voter ID law. Abbott appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the law when a federal court blocked its implementation.

Davis, like most Democrats in the state legislature, opposes the photo ID requirement, claiming it makes voting more difficult for seniors and low-income Texans, as well as women.

Republicans have denied that they’re trying to keep likely Democratic voters from casting ballots.  They say they want to reduce fraud, even though there’s little evidence of voter impersonation at the polls.

Statewide, the Secretary of State’s office says it hasn’t received any reports of voters being required to provide additional documentation because of names that don’t match.

Early voting continues through Friday. Election Day is Nov. 5.

On Twitter, Davis posted that she was voting early to support state propositions on the ballot that would support Texas veterans and water infrastructure.

The Monday voting snafu comes soon after Davis announced that she picked the architect of Tammy Baldwin's U.S. senate election to manage her campaign. Karin Johanson managed Baldwin's 2012 campaign. Davis' campaign said in a statement Sunday that Johanson "has proven that she can win tough races." Abbott is currently leading the polls.

Learn More About Photo ID In Texas

From KERA: Voting Early? Don’t Forget Your Photo ID

From Time magazine: What The Voter ID Law Really Means For Women In Texas

From VoteTexas.Gov: What You Need To Vote

Like KERA News? Like us on Facebook. And follow us on Twitter.

. @WendyDavisTexas casts early vote in Fort Worth #2014— Jay Root (@byjayroot) October 28, 2013

I voted today to support TX veterans and water infrastructure! Early voting ends Friday and Election Day is Nov. 5.— Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) October 28, 2013

Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Wendy Davis announced earlier this month she was running for Texas governor.
Dane Walters / KERA News
Wendy Davis announced earlier this month she was running for Texas governor.

Shelley Kofler is managing editor/senior reporter forKERANews. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who has served asKERAnews director and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliateWFAA-TV. Her expertise on legislative policy issues includes school finance, foster care and transportation; and her stories on the overmedication of foster children captured the attention of state officials who strengthened laws for the use of psychotropic drugs.
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