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Texas Photo ID Trial Update: First Witnesses

Testimony from the first witnesses in the Texas Photo ID case: Sammie Bates and Calvin Carrier.

  • Carson Whitelemons
September 2, 2014

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


Sammie Bates testified by video deposition on September 2nd. Ms. Bates was born in 1940, and is a grandmother, African American, and a voter.

  • Mrs. Bates testified that she has been voting since age 21. She remembers being a child in Mississippi, having to help her grandmother count out money to pay her poll taxes, because she was the only one in her house going to school at the time. This made her “really angry” because, “I didn’t think you should have to pay to vote.”
  • She stated that voting in person is important to her because she wants to see her ballot go into the box.
  • Mrs. Bates testified that she kept “running into the wall of needing her birth certificate.” It took her a while to save up the $42 needed to order her birth certificate because, “money the way it was…you’re going to put the money where you feel the need is most urgent at the time.” Bates elaborated that feeding her family was more important: “we couldn’t eat the birth certificate, and we couldn’t pay rent with the birth certificate.”

Calvin Carrier is the son of Floyd Carrier, an 83 year old African American veteran who had trouble voting because of the new ID requirements. Both spoke as witnesses and explained the difficulties Floyd Carrier faced obtaining an ID.

  • Calvin stated that when his father went to vote in November 2013, he was unaware of the new requirements. Floyd brought his expired Driver’s License, his VA card, and his voter registration card. He has gone to the same place to vote for past seven or ten years. Poll workers recognized Floyd but then asked for his identification. He was told his ID was not good enough.
  • Floyd testified that his father wasn’t told of a provisional ballot option, any information about the Election Identification Certificate, or the option to vote by mail.
  • Calvin Floyd described the “quest” he went on with his father to try to get ID.  He stated he was told by a DPS agent that he needed a Birth Certificate. He sent in  his application (which cost $24 plus $10–12 for a notary fee), and got back a birth certificate filled with mistakes. They then had to then send in an application for an amendment, which was rejected. Floyd provided additional materials and sent in another application, which then had to be notarized again. He stated that he then heard back that the requirements had changed and now he needed more documents.
  • When Floyd could not vote in November 2013, he stated he was disappointed in the country: “after all I did for the country, they turned me down.” But he testified that he has not given up: “I’m here today.”
  • During cross examination, Calvin Carrier stated that his father wanted an ID for purposes other than voting— that Floyd Carrier would also use this ID “for daily life.”

Visit our trial page for background on the case and updates from the three-week trial.