as many as 18 percent of all registered voters across Texas apparently [lack] state government-issued photo IDs to match their voter registration cards, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle.Here's the Chronicle's summary of the rate of voters with no state ID in selected larger counties:
Texas secretary of state officials did not find matching 2012 driver's licenses or state-issued photo IDs for 2.4 million of the state's 12.8 million registered voters, though all but about 800,000 of those voters supplied a valid identification number when they first registered to vote. The findings come from documents submitted by the state to the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an ongoing review of the new voter ID law.
The "matching" exercises conducted by the state showed up to 22 percent of Bexar County voters apparently lacked the IDs, as well as 20 percent in Dallas County and 19 percent in Harris County, based on the Chronicle's review of the state data.
Why do so many adult Texans lack ID? In part because 2 million drivers have had their drivers licenses revoked because of nonpayment of the Driver Responsibility Surcharge, which readers will recall is a stiff civil penalty tacked on top of any fines, punishments or court costs stemming from certain traffic offenses, including driving without a license, driving without insurance, "point" accumulation, and DWI. Of those, around 1.2 million have not had their licenses reinstated, which would explain why so many voters may have had a DL number when they registered to vote but don't now. If 2.4 million Texas voters lack state ID, and all but 800,000 had IDs when they registered, then the Driver Responsibility Surcharge could account for as much as three-quarters (1.2 out of 1.6 million) of those who had ID when they registered to vote but do not today.
I'd love to see the state run another matching program to find out how many voters without a current ID have defaulted on one or more Driver Responsibility Surcharges. This redundant civil penalty has inflicted untold misery on drivers who owe it, and judges blame the surcharge for Texas' declining DWI conviction rate. Now it appears the surcharge is a major contributor to Texas' Voter ID law being challenged. Meanwhile the Lege is using most of the "dedicated" funds from the surcharge to balance the budget instead of dispensing it to trauma center hospitals as they promised.
At this point, the surcharge has not only failed at all its goals - both in the enforcement realm and providing revenue for trauma hospitals - it is now interfering with other state goals like DWI enforcement and the Voter ID law. How many negative consequences must the state suffer from this ill-conceived revenue-generation scheme before the Legislature finally repeals it?