Tuesday’s off-year election was a dry run for Texas’ controversial voter ID law. On the surface things went pretty smoothly, with few voters forced to cast provisional ballots. That was enough for the law’s Republican supporters to claim vindication. But there were signs of potential trouble to come. There are no hard statistics yet, but apparently a significant number of voters had to sign affidavits—a relatively simple procedure, but one that could cause problems in higher turnout elections. And of course, with one in ten Texans lacking ID by one estimate, it’s all but impossible to measure the number of people who were deterred by the law from voting.Next year’s highly anticipated governor’s race and the 2016 presidential election will offer a far tougher test for the law, which was passed in 2011, blocked last year by the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act, then reinstated after the Supreme Court weakened the VRA in June. For now, it looks to be acting simply as one more factor, among several, to complicate the process and discourage potential voters—especially those likely to have trouble meeting the law’s requirements.
In all, 2,354 provisional ballots were cast this year, representing 0.2% of total turnout, according to Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman with the Texas Secretary of State’s office. That’s compared to 738 provisional ballots, or 0.1% of turnout, in 2011, and 1,459 provisionals, or 0.14% of turnout, in 2009.