On Election Day I posted the Facebook status,
For the record, voting in Iowa feels like a massively more civilized activity than voting in Texas does. The disenfranchisement efforts here are palpable.
To expand on that: Iowa had same-day voting registration, paper ballots that you sealed yourself, and incredibly helpful election officials that exuded concern for protecting everyone’s franchise. In contrast, when I moved back to Texas I rushed to register before the October 6 deadline. I assumed that since I had lived in Texas for all but the previous 3 years of my life and been a Texas voter before, this would be a straightforward process. It wasn’t. It took me two days of driving back and forth from Pflugerville, four forms of ID, and a document from the county tax assessor’s office to get my Texas ID and voter registration. It was important to do those at the same time, because if there are any discrepancies between the two–such as the presence of a middle name on one but not the other–you will not be allowed to vote normally on election day. You will be able to, should you be willing to take the time, fill out an affidavit and a provisional ballot, which may or may not end up being counted. And even if everything is in order, you will be voting electronically, with all the potential for abuse that brings.
I was able to get my Texas ID and register in only two days because I’m childless and self-employed and was able to take as much time jumping through bureaucratic hoops as was required. Also, I had four forms of identification. But what if my time was more limited, or I had a shorter history as a voter in this state? I might not have managed to register in time at all. And the presence of such irritating barriers might have stopped me from caring enough to try.
That effect is exactly the reason the barriers are there: to stop minorities, the poor, anyone who is demographically unlikely to support the Republican party from voting. And this year it was remarkably effective. Texas had a voter turnout rate of only 28.5%, the lowest in the entire country. Relatedly, the conservative candidates rolled to easy victories. Iowa’s a swing state and Texas isn’t. Voting in Iowa feels like a celebrated act of civic responsibility. Voting in Texas feels like being patted down by the TSA.