92-year-old Texas woman denied photo ID to vote: "Not to be able to vote breaks my heart"

Want another reason to abhor idiotic voter ID laws? Texas A.G. Greg Abbott just gave you one (UPDATED)

Published May 21, 2014 6:32PM (EDT)

  (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

This post originally appeared on The BRAD BLOG.

Update, 5/22/14, 12:15 p.m.: After receiving lots of media coverage and yet another ride to the Dept. of Public Safety, the state of Texas has finally found a way to allow Barber a Photo ID for voting this year. As reported by the Waco Trib...

Despite the lack of a birth certificate, the state was able to verify Barber’s citizenship by finding her birthday in a U.S. census taken in the 1940s, [Barber's son, Jimmy] Denton said. She also showed her Social Security card, two utility bills and her Medicare card.

Now, if we can just get national media coverage for each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of registered voters who still don't have the requisite Photo ID now needed to vote under the Texas law. Or, as in the case with the Republican nominee for Governor in Arkansas during Tuesday's primary, perhaps we can just hire each one of those otherwise legal voters a staffer to take care of the problem.

Original post:

Here is just one more of the hundreds of thousands of reasons that have led the U.S. Department of Justice to file suit against Texas Republicans' polling place photo ID restriction law.

The same law had been previously blocked by the DOJ and again by a federal court under the federal Voting Rights Act, after the state's own data showed the law discriminated against racial minorities and others, while failing to deter actual voter fraud in the state.

But, literally minutes after SCOTUS gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act last summer, the section that was used to strike down the law previously, Texas Republicans announced their intention to reenact the law that, of course, they knew to be discriminatory.

As the Waco Tribune reports, 92-year old Ruby Barber has tried, but has so far failed, to obtain one of those so-called "free" photo IDs from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), now that one is required for her to cast her legal vote this year, as she has for decades, until now, without a problem.

Barber's story is heartbreaking and maddening but, unfortunately, probably not entirely rare. The DOJ estimated, based on the state's supplied data when the federal agency blocked the law in 2012, "the total number of registered voters [in Texas] who lack a driver's license or personal identification card issued by DPS could range from 603,892 to 795,955."

Barber's driver's license expired in 2010 and she's now having difficulty locating "her nearly century-old birth certificate that she'd need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law." As the New York Daily News reports, the details of Barber's story and her fight to try and cast her vote are simply absurd.

A frail 92-year-old woman is the latest victim of new voter identification laws sweeping across the U.S.

Ruby Barber, a senior citizen in the small town of Bellmead, Texas, has been unable to vote because she can't find her nearly century-old birth certificate that she'd need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law.

"I'm sure (my birth) was never reported because I was born in a farmhouse with a coal oil lamp," Barber, 92, told the Waco (Texas) Tribune. "Didn't have a doctor, just a neighbor woman come in and (delivered) me."

Barber visited the state's Department of Public Safety office last week to request the newly required election identification certificate, but was declined after she didn't have a birth certificate.

Under Texas's new strict voter ID law, enacted in June 2013, all voters must show one of six forms of valid photo identification - including a driver's license, a passport, a military ID or concealed gun permit - to be able to vote.

Those who lack a valid photo ID, can apply for an election identification certificate (EIC) - a process that requires a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship.

Barber, unfortunately, no longer has any of the documents she'd need to obtain a ballot.

According to the Tribune, her driver's license expired in 2010 and her marriage license was lost in a 1992 house fire.

She took her Medicare card, Social Security card and expired driver's license to state officials when she sought her EIC, but agency staff insisted she needed to provide a birth certificate.

"I've voted all my life, and not to be able to vote, it just breaks my heart," Barber said of the possibility that she may not able to vote in this year's Texas gubernatorial election - expected to be a close race between Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis.

Thanks to the publicity, perhaps Barber will finally, somehow, be able to get the state-issued photo ID she now needs to vote. Maybe. Similar publicity helped 90-year-old Texan and former Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Jim Wright obtain a photo ID for voting late last year after he also failed to obtain one initially.

The untold numbers of once-legal voters who don't receive a profile in the local papers, however, are a different story.

And, of course, the next paragraph of the Daily News story illustrates that Republicans are, indeed, hitting their target with their voter suppression law:

"I want to see a Democrat win," she told the Tribune. "My daddy was a Democrat to the end of his life ... and he said, 'Don't none of you kids ever vote for a Republican.' And I never have."

If it's left up to Republicans, she'll never vote for anyone ever again.

It's little coincidence that Texas Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is both defending the law on behalf of the state and running for governor this year. It's also no coincidence that he's shown himself more than happy to defraud the public when it comes to lying about the real reasons the GOP has worked so hard for so long to implement these new voting restrictions in the Lone Star State and elsewhere.

We'll hope the BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning is right in his belief that the Texas law is likely to be nixed again in the pending federal case (There are also similar federal challenges pending in both North Carolina and Arkansas.) If the recent federal ruling that decimated Wisconsin's nearly-identical GOP law is any indication, perhaps Barber and all legally registered voters who wish to vote this year will get to do so in November after all. But it's going to be an ugly bunch of months between now and then.

By Brad Friedman

Investigative journalist and broadcaster Brad Friedman is the creator and publisher of The BRAD Blog. He has contributed to Mother Jones, The Guardian, Truthout, Huffington Post, The Trial Lawyer magazine and Editor & Publisher.

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