Texas Voter ID Law Exempts Elderly, Gun Owners

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 3 2011 10:32 AM

Texas Voter ID Law Exempts Elderly, Gun Owners

In Texas, where Republicans won massive midterm election victories for the state legislature, a bill requiring driver's licenses from voters is sailing through to passage. Democrats failed to amend the law to allow non-photo IDS -- pieces of mail, for example -- as proof enough for voting. Luckily, Republicans and some Democrats have softened the bill to make it easier for two kinds of voters.

- Voters born in 1931 or earlier do not have to show a photo ID.

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- Gun owners who have concealed handgun licenses can use them to prove their identities.

I'll stress it again: These were bipartisan changes to the law. They are also going to help Republican voters. In 2008, a decent year for Texas Democrats but the last one for which exit polls are available, John McCain beat Barack Obama by 34 points among voters who were 65 and older; McCain had only won statewide by 10 points. We don't have a clean poll like this that tells us how gun owners voted in 2008, but the data is clear; gun owners favor Republicans.

Now, it's not easy to get a concealed handgun license. Showing one does prove that you're a citizen. That law makes sense. It just so happens that both of these exemptions benefit Republicans.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.