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Biggest Winner of Election Day? Voter ID Laws

With robust early voting forecasting a strong turnout, the roll-out of Texas’ new law requiring voters to present a photo ID appeared to be going as smooth as silk Tuesday.

Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callenen credited “tons of preparation, tons of training, tons of sensitivity training” for the few problems reported in connection with the controversial law.

She also called it “a blessing” that the law’s implementation occurred during an election for state constitutional propositions, which historically draw lighter participation.

According to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, some 3.7 percent of Texas’s eligible voters, or 317,752 voters statewide casts early ballots. Of those, 101,694 ballots were cast in Harris County, which featured the hotly contested race between Houston Mayor Annise Parker and top challenger Ben Hall. Only 30,845 voters cast early ballots in Bexar County.

The photo ID requirement was blocked by a federal court in Washington D.C., but a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidating a part of the Voting Rights Act cleared the way for the state law to take effect. Another federal challenge, filed by minority groups and joined by the U.S. Department of Justice, will go forward in a Nov. 15 hearing before Corpus Christi U.S. Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos.

Democrats have blasted the law as unnecessary, and claim that Republican sponsors are trying to discourage women, minorities and the poor from voting.

Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, said he felt vindicated by the law’s early track record. . .

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