Confession time: in my earthly guise, I'm white, anglo-saxon, protestant male. My wife is a white, anglo-saxon, protestant female. We live in a Republican neighborhood in the Great Republican State of Texas. We do not advertise our political persuasion -- we have no bumper stickers, no flag pins, we are not dressed like hippies, and, in fact, we are indistinguishable from the great Republican horde around us.
And today, my wife got harassed while voting. It was a small thing, and her vote wasn't denied, but it hit us both pretty hard.
This is down in Rlyeh, Texas, home of the Alamo. My wife and I arrived in our Republican district for in person voting today. We both brought with us out voter registration card. Per the Country registration officials, there is no picture ID requirement for voting in Texas today (the new law goes into effect next election).
I was in line first. I handed in my voter registration card (signed in blue ink with my signature). I was handed my voter registration card back and told to please sign the voting register. While I was signing the voter register, my wife was asked for her voter registration card. She handed over her voter registration card (signed in blue ink with her signatre) and was immediately asked for ID.
Whoa. Wait a second here.
Was this her first time voting at this polling place? Nope. This is where we always vote. We voted here together in 2010 and 2011. New address? Nope: same address. Something different between our voter registration cards? Nope. In fact, the voter registration cards are identical, except for signatures.
I went to vote, and left my wife to present her ID. Thanksfully, she was already prepared -- she had 2 state issued IDs, plus a birth certificate, plus a utility bill ready to go. And she knew that I was not just her husband but her lawyer, and would, if necessary, file suit immediately to make sure she was permitted to vote.
She showed her ID and was permitted to sign in, but then the precinct judge put aside her registration card and "forgot" to give it back. She asked for it to be returned, and it was, and she voted.
More after the jump...
After she voted and I voted, we then went to the election judge and asked why she was required to provide ID and I was not. There was no answer given -- something about how there may have been redistricting, which of course makes no sense -- if there was redistricting, I would have been asked for my ID as well.
The simple fact is that it sure looks like the only difference between my voter registration card and my wife's is that her card was for a woman, and my card was for a man. When I asked my wife about what happened in the parking lot, she said that it made her angry as hell, but if she needed to show her ID to help elect Democrats, she was willing to do so.
Obviously, this isn't the same level of harassment that other voters face. Many people are forced to go through a lot more than bringing with them an alternate form of ID -- long lines (we didn't have that), misrepresentations as to status (we didn't have that, either), no parking, police hazing, verbal (and, sometimes, non-verbal) assault, and god knows what else. Still, it is telling that the Republican machine down here has gone so far as to harass women in republican districts by imposing additional requirements to prevent voting.
It was also, I must confess, an interesting study of "whiteness" or "male prerogative" or "the benefit of being in the group with the majority of power" or however you want to call it. I mean, I get to sail through the line as a while male voter -- no request for ID -- but my wife has to show additional proof to vote. It sends a message, a very clear message, about how Republicans view the world.
8:48 AM PT: Update -- Thank you for placing me on the Rec list, on this, what is probably the most important day of the year.
Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 8:09 AM PT: Barak Obama swept my county, resulting in significant coat tails on the local elections. Perhaps angering the women of my county was not a good idea.....