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Study: Over 1 in 5 Low-Income Texans Lack Eligible Voter ID

Low-income voters, many of them Latino and African American, face the most barriers in obtaining proper ID under the strict law being challenged.
File photo of voters casting their ballots on November 6, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas United States.
File photo of voters casting their ballots on November 6, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas United States.Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Over one-in-five eligible Texas voters who make $20,000 a year or less do not have a current photo ID that would be accepted under the current voter ID law. In Texas, income disparities are closely correlated with race and ethnicity, making the voter ID law more onerous for Latino and African American voters, according to minority and voting rights groups.

Under the law, Texas registered voters must present one of 7 kinds of current photo ID, including a driver’s license or state ID card, a license to carry a concealed handgun, a U.S. military ID card with a photo; a U.S. citizenship certificate with photo, a state election certificate or a U.S. passport.

University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto testified Thursday on behalf of the groups who have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law. These include the Department of Justice, MALDEF and the NAACP. Barreto was asked about a survey he conducted of over 2,000 eligible voters. He found 21 percent of those making less than $20,000 did not have the required photo IDs, compared with only 2.6 percent of higher income voters.

Moreover, the survey found Latino voters were the group most likely to think they had the kind of ID accepted under the new law when in fact their responses showed they did not. This was the case among 9 percent of Latinos, 7 percent of African Americans and 3.8 percent of whites. When asked how easy it would be to go to a facility to obtain an ID, 91 percent of Texans who lacked a state ID said they would face at least one burden - such as a lack of a facility nearby, or transportation or working during hours when the facilities are open.

--Sandra Lilley