Wayne Slater Schools Poll Worker On Voter-ID Laws

Wayne Slater is the senior political writer at the Dallas Morning News. He lives outside of Austin. He tried to vote early there this weekend. Because Texas’ voter-ID law was challenged by the Justice Department, Slater brought his water bill to the voting precinct, where he met a supervisor named Peggy. Here’s what he says happened next:

Peggy: “We prefer a voter-registration card or a drivers license. There’s a list of identifications starting with registration card, driver’s license,  picture ID – we prefer to go in that order.”

Me: “Does that mean, Peggy, that I can’t vote with this.”

At that point, Peggy got up, turned around and began leafing through a booket with the state law. Another superviser scurried over. Peggy said I wasn’t producing a photo-ID, He looked quickly at my utility bill and said, “That looks fine.”

Peggy: “It has to be a current utility bill.”

He looked over the bill. It was current. “This looks fine,” he said.

Peggy then punched my name in the computer and announced that I’m not a registered voter.  I have a current registration card so I know I’m registered. The second superviser came back and looked over the screen. Peggy had mistyped my name. He told her to correct it. She did. I voted.


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  • Long Memory

    Not to cast aspersions, but if someone who looks like, say, Emmitt Smith were to become involved in such a discussion I think the cops would be called in quickly. They’d be all over said voter, I’m thinking.

  • Senor

    Peggy misspelled Slater’s name and Slater misspelled “supervisor” (three times) in his article. I’d say they’re even.

  • Daniel

    Maybe it’s that Peggy dude from the TV commercials who seems to be from the hinterlands of Latvia or somewhere. If so, I think “unhelpful” is kinda his trademark.

  • bc

    The elderly, but charming, folks running my early voting location were a little hopped up on the power. There was a lot of unnecessary directing about the room. I also thought it was odd that I had to initial something stating I didn’t have my voter registration card when I presented only my driver’s license. The license has my face and address on it. It’s a lot better than the postcard, I’d think…

  • Uppercase Matt

    There’s no power to speak of when working as an election judge/clerk — it’s just hours of very little to do broken up with trying to manage a sudden rush of people, and to make sure the procedure’s followed for everyone.

    Initialing the box for voting without a registration card has been the routine for at least 20 years.

  • CraigT

    @Uppercase Matt
    There may not be much real power, but there certainly is perceived power, at least at my local library on any election day.
    I am at the library a lot for actual book and media related reasons, and whenever any local election is going on there are no shortage of retired busybodies ready to snap at me to turn off my phone or to snap at my kids to be quiet (in a parking lot) because they are excitedly reading the election posters placed carefully out at the edge of where campaign materials are allowed. I guess my texting my wife about what book she wants, or my kids trying to sound out a candidates name is going to spoil the electoral process for everyone and usher in a new era of anarchy.

  • Neal

    So it sounds like that after a brief re-check of the rules and a correction to a misspelled name, he was able to vote with about one or two minutes of delay. Poor guy. What has become of our Republic?

  • PR

    OK, lets say I register 5 people in an apartment under false names. Then I find one guy who doesnt mind breaking the law for a little bit of cash. So, I then do a little photoshop work and provide him with a fake paycheck stub or utility bill for each of the 5 false names. Then I send him to five different early voting locations to vote using the bogus paycheck stubs or utility bills.

    Under current law, no one could question him. All he has to do is tell them his “name”, show the faked utility bill and then he gets to vote — repeatedly.

    Now, in a close race for a council seat, 200 votes could make a difference. Just find 15 or so people who dont mind breaking the law for some cash and they can sway an election.

    Who would be disenfranchised in this scenario?

  • E_Green

    Michael, not sure you understand the correct usage of the term “schools.”

  • Uppercase Matt

    CraigT — that’s part of their job and part of the election code. They’re trained and required to prevent “electioneering” inside the lines and to tell people to turn off their phones, cameras, etc.

    There’s always a need for more pollworkers — you ought to volunteer your time, so you can make sure that it’s not just “retired busybodies” working for $8/hr at a largely thankless temp job and trying to enforce the rules. Most of those people show up for every election, and the pay really isn’t worth it — it’s because they’re willing to do the PITA part of the mechanics of a democracy. There’s probably another election next May — you can call Dallas County Elections and ask where you sign up to be part of the solution.

  • Vseslav Botkin

    @PR You’re really going to fraudulently register five fake names and hope they show up on the rolls, pay someone to commit five felonies by casting five fraudulent votes, spend time forging utility bills and shuttling this guy around town on election day, all the while not knowing if these five extra votes will effect the outcome of the election? And when he gets caught, it’s almost a certainty you get caught. Great plan! This is why voter fraud is rampant.

  • Eric

    Wick’s argument about the underclass that has no photo ID because they don’t drive, don’t cash checks, don’t enter federal buildings, don’t fly, don’t buy alcohol or cigarettes, don’t pick up packages held at the Post Office and don’t use credit cards notwithstanding, I really find it hard to believe that protecting the validity of something as important as the electoral process by requiring a photo ID puts any real burden on any real group. It seems that instead of trying to entirely unburden the 3.5 people who fit the description above we should be more concerned about voter fraud which is well documented (N.B. Wick – Franken’s win in Minnesota)

  • PR

    @Vseslav, this kind of fraud has been going on for some time and only now are people getting caught. And, per your comment, the guy is not shuttled around town on election day. He has two weeks of early voting to vote as many times as you have fake pay stubs. Multiply that by 30 or more people and that’s a lot of votes.

    Dont be naive — this is a growing problem in America. There are operatives who make a lot(!) of money by coordinating such efforts. When you have three to four months to plan, its very possible to get 500 or more fraudulent votes in an election.

  • ELH

    @PR The majority of voter fraud comes from absentee ballots. Not a thing has been done to prevent that kind of fraud. Also, if you are under the impression that people are going to use that much effort to vote fraudulently in person what would keep them from making a fake drivers license just like half the college freshmen in this country?

  • Dubious Brother

    When I voted in all elections over the past 40 + years, I have always taken my voter registration card and my drivers license and I have never been hastled or denied my right to vote. Now when I leave the polling place I remind myself that LBJ won his first election by about 50 or so votes and that in one precint about 200 hispanics voted in alphabetical order just before the polls closed.

  • Paul

    Slater showed up spoiling for a fight. The fact that the poll worker challenged a smug, elitist, old white guy shows that they’re trying to apply the law evenly. Glad he was eventually able to cast his straight Democrat ticket.