Texas Photo ID Trial Update: Day Seven Afternoon Session

On the afternoon of the seventh day of trial, the Court heard a continuation of the cross-examination of the State’s expert, testimony from the Director of Elections, and excerpts from the depositions of two Texas politicians.

September 11, 2014

After nearly a year of litigation, the Texas photo ID trial started Tuesday, September 2. Visit our trial page for updates from the expected two-week trial as it proceeds.

On the afternoon of the seventh day of trial, the Court heard a continuation of the cross-examination of the State’s expert, testimony from the Director of Elections, and excerpts from the depositions of two Texas politicians.

The afternoon began with a continuation of the cross-examination of Prof. M.V. Hood III, an expert for Texas. Click here to read the beginning of his testimony. Richard Dellheim continued his cross-examination.

  • Hood testified that the 170,000 Texans who have the option to vote absentee are unaffected by SB 14 if they vote by mail, but are affected if they choose to vote in person. Hood stated that of the 85,031 voters with disabilities, only 18 had gotten a disability exemption, and that the rest, if they choose to vote in person, were choosing to be affected by SB 14.
  • Hood testified that his analysis of provisional ballots in Harris County did not account for people who were deterred from showing up to the polls by the photo ID law.
  • He testified that Texas’s photo ID law is the strictest he is aware of if Wisconsin’s is not being considered, with the caveat that he is not familiar with the laws of all 50 states.
  • Hood stated that his study was thrown out of the Georgia photo ID litigation, and that the state court in the Wisconsin photo ID litigation found his testimony substantially less credible, though it was not thrown out. Hood also stated that the federal trial court in the Wisconsin photo ID litigation found that his conclusions on the number of voters were suspect.

Ezra Rosenberg continued the cross-examination of Hood.

  • Hood stated that he has designed a total of five surveys in his career, none of which were on voter ID. He also testified that he is aware that Prof. Barreto has conducted a number of surveys in his career, and that he considers him to be highly competent in his field.
  • Hood stated that he does not criticize Barreto’s survey in terms of the sample size, sampling techniques, bias, or response rate; his issue with the Barreto survey was that he was not able to replicate the results, though he came close.
  • Hood testified that even under his reconstruction of the survey numbers, which he stated did not weight each racial group according to gender, education, age, and other factors to ensure the samples reflected Texas’s population as a whole, the disparities between racial groups in terms of ID possession remain statistically significant.
  • Hood testified that he is not aware of a single case of in-person voter impersonation voter fraud.

Chad Dunn concluded Hood’s cross-examination.

  • Hood agreed that possession rates of certain types of ID, such as a driver’s license, are correlated with income. He testified that while he has not looked into income levels by race, he would guess that Latinos are likely to be poorer than whites.

Next, the State read into the record additional testimony from the deposition of David Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor of Texas.

  • Dewhurst testified that voters of both parties supported photo ID legislation, that polls measured popular support at around 80 percent, and that constituents expressed support in calls and conversations. He stated that support was so universal that it was surprising anyone would vote against it.
  • Dewhurst stated that he didn’t agree that a significant number of people can’t get ID, as those who are over 65 can vote by mail and those who live in urban areas are close to DPS offices. He testified that he was not aware of voters complaining that they were disenfranchised, and that politicians hear about it when voters are upset.
  • Dewhurst testified that the purpose of SB 14 was to ensure the integrity of the ballot box, and that concern over illegal immigrants voting is a subset of that.
  • Dewhurst stated that he believed SB 14 to be one of the best voter ID bills in the country because as photo ID legislation was debated in back-to-back sessions of the legislature, it got better over time. He also testified that because Democrats had used legislative procedures, such as “chubbing”, to block photo ID legislation in the past, Republicans decided to use legislative procedures to pass SB 14.
  • In cross-examination testimony submitted by the plaintiffs, Dewhurst agreed that the only type of fraud that would be prevented by SB 14 is in-person voter impersonation fraud. He also stated that he opposed an amendment that would have made the underlying documentation required to get SB 14 ID free, because those are reasonable costs to impose on voters.

The Court then heard from Keith Ingram, the Director of Elections for the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Division.

  • Ingram testified that following the passage of SB 14, his office had to interpret what the legislation meant, had to communicate it to poll workers and officials, and had to reach out to the public.
  • He stated that there are more than 25,000 poll workers at 8,000 polling places across the state, and that it is the Elections Division’s responsibility to educate the counties on election issues, who in turn educate poll workers. He testified that after the passage of SB 14, it became mandatory for all poll workers to be educated on photo ID requirements, and there is now a separate training just regarding photo ID requirements.
  • Ingram testified that the Secretary of State’s office interpreted a passport card as acceptable SB 14 ID, although the legislation only mentioned passports. Similarly, the bill mentions a citizenship certificate, but a naturalization certificate is much more common. Ingram testified that his office talked to the legislature and decided to accept either a naturalization certificate or a citizenship certificate. He stated that his office also has interpreted acceptable forms of military ID more broadly than is written in the law.
  • Ingram stated that he saw the Office of the Inspector General’s report saying that 61 of 63 attempts at voter fraud during the state’s sting operation were successful, and that this confirmed his view that voter fraud is easy to do.
  • Ingram testified that he looked at what other states did with respect to mobile units distributing IDs, and asked the Department of Public Safety if they could do something similar in Texas.
  • Ingram stated that voter turnout was up in 2013 when compared to 2011.

Ingram was first cross-examined by Elizabeth Westfall of the Department of Justice.

  • Ingram agreed that every voter has the right to vote in person, and that only certain classes of voters are eligible to vote by mail.
  • Ingram stated that the disability exemption can’t be claimed on Election Day. He stated that voters have six days after the election in which to obtain an exemption and have their provisional ballot counted. Ingram stated that he believes 19 people have gotten a disability exemption in Texas in order to vote.
  • He testified that he cannot impose unfunded mandates on counties by requiring their county offices to be open more hours.
  • Ingram stated that Texans do “not yet” need to provide proof of citizenship to register.
  • Ingram testified that the Elections Division asked DPS to refrain from fingerprinting Election Identification Certificate (“EIC”) applicants, because it believed some voters would object.
  • Ingram stated that there is now a five-day advance notice when a mobile EIC unit is coming to a county. He testified that 25 mobile units were jointly administered by DPS and the Secretary of State. Ingram stated that he does not know how many counties have issued EIC, and that, before this week, he hadn’t known how many EICs had been issued.

Kelly Dunbar concluded the cross-examination of Ingram.

  • Ingram stated that the improbability of voter fraud detection makes it impossible to know how rare it is, and that the existence of one fraud conviction since 2002 proves that fraud happens, which is what SB 14 is trying to prevent. Ingram testified that Texas has elections which are decided by one or two votes.
  • Ingram testified that the websites for the Secretary of State and DPS do not explain that EIC applicants will not have warrant checks run on them, or be fingerprinted, but that it would not be a bad idea to add that information.
  • Ingram stated that the Elections Division does not track provisional ballots cast on the basis of identification issues because there are so few of them.

The Court next heard a reading from the deposition transcript of Senator Troy Fraser, a Republican state senator from District 24.

  • Fraser stated that Democratic State Senator Juan Hinojosa asked that a concealed handgun permit be included as SB 14 ID, and Fraser agreed to add it.
  • Fraser testified that public opinion polls showed strong support for photo ID to vote, and that he made this polling data available to all senators before they voted on SB 14.
  • In cross-examination deposition testimony submitted by the plaintiffs, Fraser testified that he was unaware of any incident in which a student ID had been used to commit voter fraud. He stated that the legislature discussed it and determined young people were more likely to have photo ID, so student IDs did not need to be included. Fraser testified that people who live in remote areas know they have to travel for things, such as groceries and such as obtaining an EIC.