Three months before Election Day, a federal judge issued an order forcing Texas to allow people to vote without a photo ID as long as they signed an affidavit claiming a reasonable impediment to obtaining one.
Only a small percentage of voters signed them but officials in Tarrant County are asking their district attorney to investigate 15 affidavits that may have been issued improperly.
David Saleh Rauf, who followed the story for the Associated Press, says that after looking through thousands of affidavits, the main issue was confusion among voters and poll workers.
He says that there were a small number of voters that intended to misuse the affidavits.
“We also saw some people using the affidavit as a protest to the voter ID law,” Saleh Rauf says. “Really telling the state, ‘Shelf that law, we’re not going to abide by it.'”
Many election officials are not requesting investigations into the affidavits because of the confusion surrounding the court order and the relatively small number of people misusing them.
Tarrant County officials may be on high alert because the county was the site of a highly publicized case of voter fraud by a Mexican national just a few months ago. Saleh Rauf says that it is not accurate to compare that case to the affidavit issue.
“We need to be careful when we talk about these affidavits here. Election officials don’t consider this voter fraud,” Saleh Rauf says. “This does not have the same scent of voter fraud that we see the president and other leaders talking about. These were eligible voters. These were voters who were registered.”
Saleh Rauf says that this may be more of an issue of perjury than fraud because these voters were supposed to cast provisional ballots and then return with an ID to cure their ballots. This is where prosecutors tasked with investigating the ballots must determine if the improper voting was the result of confusion among poll workers or intentional misuse among voters.
“Intent is going to absolutely be key,” Saleh Rauf says. “If there is going to be a prosecutor going after some of these people who improperly used the affidavit process, they’re going to need to make a case that there was intent involved here.”
Written by Emma Whalen.