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.
The State of Texas continued its defense during the morning session of the seventh day of trial, introducing testimony from the Lieutenant Governor of Texas and putting an expert on the stand.
The Court first heard from a reading of the deposition of David Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor of Texas.
- Dewhurst testified that he referred photo ID legislation to the Committee of the Whole in the legislature because that is generally the best place to provide lengthy public testimony either for or against a bill so that all members hear it. He stated that he wanted to ensure the photo ID bill was constitutional, and that the Indiana photo ID bill was upheld in 2008, which preceded the introduction of a photo ID bill in Texas by six months.
- Dewhurst testified that he had concerns about forms of identification that did not include a photo when it comes to voting.
- He stated that in 2009 photo ID opponents “chubbed” previous voter ID bills to death, meaning that the legislators debated the bills so long that they died.
- In cross-examination deposition testimony submitted by the plaintiffs, Dewhurst stated that SB 362, an earlier piece of photo ID legislation, addressed only in-person voter impersonation fraud.
Testifying next was M.V. Hood III, a professor at the University of Georgia in the Department of Political Science. John Scott took the lead in his questioning.
- Hood was offered as an expert in the field of American politics, specifically southern politics and racial politics. He testified that he was asked to examine the potential overall impact of SB 14 on the Texas electorate, and to directly respond to a couple of the plaintiffs’ expert witness reports in this case: those of Prof. Ansolabehere and Prof. Barreto. He stated that he did not create a no-match list or survey of his own, but instead analyzed the ones that the plaintiffs’ experts had created.
- Hood testified that through his analysis he found 37,592 voters on the no-match list Ansolabehere created (which consisted of approximately 780,000 registered voters who lacked SB 14 ID) who had in fact voted since the implementation of SB 14. Hood stated that 81 percent of those 37,592 people voted in person, so they must have shown ID. Of the 19 percent of those voters who voted absentee, 16.2 percent were 65 or over, 1.5 percent were under 65, and 1.4 percent were in-person absentee voters. Hood testified that these numbers taken together illustrate that essentially everyone who votes is not affected by SB 14, or made adjustments post-implementation to obtain ID.
- Hood testified that some of the birthdates for people in Ansolabehere’s data were nonsensical, and that Hood removed those people from his analysis. In the Texas voter registration database Ansolabehere used, Hood stated that there were more than 18,000 people who were listed as 114 years old. Hood also testified that only 51 percent of the people in Ansolabehere’s data had a full Social Security number.
- Hood testified that he examined provisional ballots cast in nine of the ten largest Texas counties in the November 2013 election, which occurred after SB 14’s implementation. He stated that .034 percent of the total votes cast were provisional ballots cast for reasons relating to ID, and that uncured provisional ballots cast for reasons relating to ID represented .030 percent of the total ballots cast in those counties in that election.
- Hood testified that he analyzed Barreto’s survey data and recalculated the ID possession rate among registered voters after excluding those who in his opinion were unaffected by SB 14, such as people 65 or older who can vote by mail without an ID. Under this amended analysis, Hood found that 1.8 percent of registered voters lack SB 14 ID, compared to Barreto’s finding of 3.3 percent of registered voters. Hood also testified that he found a discrepancy in the survey’s coding of voters’ responses to whether they had certain forms of identification, and that this discrepancy had artificially raised the percentage of Hispanics without valid ID by 2.9 percent.
- Richard Dellheim cross-examined Hood. Hood testified that he had conducted a study in Georgia that found decreased voter turnout after implementation of a photo ID law. He testified that generally increased voting costs do make voting by a given individual less likely, but that there are other factors that can overcome this effect. Hood stated that while, due to socioeconomic disparities and other reasons, minority voter turnout has historically been lower than that of whites, that trend has been changing as of late. Hood agreed that photo ID laws in South Carolina, Georgia, and Indiana allow for more forms of acceptable ID, or offer more alternatives to ID, than does SB 14. Hood testified that in his opinion “ID disparity only matters if it ultimately causes a disparity in voter turnout.” He stated that if people face burdens to voting but overcome them, this is different than if turnout rates of certain groups actually decrease. Hood stated that he doesn’t know of any court that has rejected a database match analysis due to the lack of full Social Security numbers, and that he has no evidence that the lack of them in this case caused any inaccuracies in Ansolabehere’s analysis.