Texas Photo ID Trial Update: Day Eight

On the eighth day of trial, the Court heard from a manager at the Department of Public Safety and excerpts from multiple depositions.

September 12, 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 eighth day of trial, the Court heard from a manager at the Department of Public Safety and excerpts from multiple depositions, including those of a county clerk and the general counsel for the lieutenant governor. At the close of the day, the State of Texas rested its case. In order to allow time for some experts in the case to update their reports to reflect the most recent data available, closing arguments will be held the morning of September 22, 2014.

The first witness of the morning was John Crawford, the Applications Manager for Licensing Services at the Department of Public Safety. John Scott conducted the examination.

  • Crawford testified that he works for DPS’s IT division, where he manages the driver’s license, personal ID, and EIC records databases. While Crawford is not a programmer, he manages a team of programmers.
  • Crawford testified that he compared the racial identification of individuals with Texas driver’s licenses, personal IDs and EICs as recorded within those records to the racial identification data used for those same individuals in other records consulted by plaintiffs’ experts in this case. The analysis was performed on September 4 or 5, and was provided to the plaintiffs on September 10.
  • Crawford stated that of the 12.6 million individuals’ records that were matched between his records and the records used by plaintiffs’ experts, more than three million listed differing racial identities.
  • Anna Baldwin cross-examined Crawford. Under cross-examination, Crawford stated that he is not an expert in matching criteria and that he himself did not do the analysis of the records comparison, his staff did. He agreed that his staff had, in an earlier stage of this litigation, erroneously omitted millions of records from a records production, and failed to notice the error for six months. Crawford agreed that the records comparison forming the basis of his testimony today happened last week, and that no one outside DPS had reviewed it before today.
  • Still under cross-examination, Crawford testified that, prior to May 2010, DPS did not allow driver’s license or personal ID holders to list their race as Hispanic. Baldwin pulled up the DPS ID records of famous Texans, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, whose DPS ID records indicate they are white. Crawford agreed that these individuals publicly self-identify as Hispanic.

The parties then entered into the record deposition testimony, including that of Carolyn Guidry, the County Clerk for Jefferson County since 2004.

  • Guidry testified that she oversees elections in Jefferson County, and that she ran as a Democrat. She stated that there are five employees in her elections department.
  • Guidry stated that Jefferson County trains 200 people to staff elections. She testified that in-person training lasts two to three days and that, while the county does offer online training, training on SB 14 was given in person. Guidry stated that her office got photo ID materials from the Secretary of State, some of which they incorporated into their training. She testified that the training addressed substantially similar names.
  • Guidry testified that, in terms of public outreach on SB 14, her office had radio time to educate voters, conducted workshops, added informational inserts into every tax statement, and visited different organizations to talk about photo ID requirements. She testified that the Secretary of State’s office and the counties share the responsibility to educate voters. Guidry stated that it was particularly important to educate voters on photo ID, because historically voters have taken only their voter registration cards to the polls.
  • Guidry stated that she received a complaint that a poll worker in her county was not asking for ID when they should have been, and has not received any other complaints about the law. Guidry testified that, based on the elections held in Jefferson County since SB 14’s implementation, she does not think the law has prevented people from voting.
  • Plaintiffs then offered cross-examination deposition testimony for Guidry. She testified that two mobile EIC units came to Jefferson County before the March 2014 primary, and that she had been given a week’s notice of their arrival. Guidry stated that her office was contacted about a mobile EIC unit days before the November 2013 election, and she declined it because she didn’t have enough time to organize it. Guidry stated that she is not aware of any instances of voter fraud that would have been prevented by SB 14. She testified that there are two DPS offices in Jefferson County: The one in Beaumont is out of the way and inaccessible by bus, and she has heard complaints from voters about its accessibility. She does not know where the Port Arthur DPS office is located. She stated that she has heard complaints that the DPS offices are always crowded, and that some residents worry that DPS will check for warrants or underlying traffic tickets. She testified that in Jefferson County there were four provisional ballots cast related to ID in the March 2014 primary and seven provisional ballots cast related to ID in the May 2014 primary runoff, none of which were cured. Guidry stated that she believes the ID requirements in place prior to SB 14 were sufficient to ensure secure elections.

The Court next heard a reading from the deposition of Bryan Hebert, General Counsel for the Lieutenant Governor.

  • Hebert stated that while no system is perfect, SB 14 is a step in the right direction toward ensuring non-citizens aren’t voting.
  • Hebert testified that the universe of potential crimes or ineligible votes that would be cast is smaller with SB 14 that without it.
  • Under cross-examination, when presented with an email in which he had recommended public outreach on photo ID targeted at minority voters, Hebert agreed that the statutory language of SB 14 as passed does not require such targeted outreach. Hebert testified that Senator Duncan had offered an amendment that would have created an exception for indigent voters, but the amendment was not adopted. When Hebert was presented with a document in which he had written that “SB 14 would give Texas arguably the strictest photo ID bill in the country,” he stated that likely referred to the forms of ID accepted and the criminal penalties for voting fraudulently. Hebert testified that he was not aware of any cases of in-person voter impersonation fraud between August 2012 and June 2013, and that he is not aware of any voter fraud perpetuated using student IDs. Hebert testified that SB 14 is silent on the locations of ID-issuing offices, and that under the law DPS is left to set its own operating hours for ID distribution.

The Court then recessed on this case until 8:30 a.m. on September 22, 2014, when closing arguments will be presented by both sides.