For the first time in his adult life, Texas native Eric Kennie will not be able to vote in an election, due to voter ID laws.
The 45-year-old Austin resident explained to The Guardian that despite multiple trips to the Texas Department of Public Safety for an election identification certificate (EIC), the only form of ID he was capable of getting, he still was turned down for not having the proper paperwork — even when he did. Kennie joins an estimated 600,000 other Texans who are registered to vote but won't be able to this cycle. Gov. Rick Perry (R) says the strict law is in place to combat electoral fraud in Texas, a state where 20 million votes have been cast over the past decade with only two cases of voter impersonation prosecuted to conviction, The Guardian reports.
The six forms of photo ID that are acceptable under the law include up-to-date passports, military ID cards, a Texas driver's license, licenses to carry concealed handguns, citizenship certificates, and EICs. Kennie has no need for any of those. While trying to get the EIC, he showed his personal ID card, which wasn't accepted because it had expired. His cable and electricity bills weren't enough, and neither was his birth certificate, which cost $23 to purchase — a hefty price for a man who makes $15 or $20 a day recycling.
Kennie's birth certificate did not have his correct last name, but rather Caruthers — the hospital used his mother's maiden name, despite the fact his parents were married. He said he would never go by this last name, even if it allowed him to vote, because it would be disrespectful to his late father. Kennie has accepted that he won't be able to cast his ballot in the November election, but is looking to the future. "I do need to vote, I really do," he said. "It's too late for me, but this is for the next generation. They need us to get out the people who harm us and bring in folks who will make things a little better. So I'm going to keep on."