Dallas County Commissioners Fume Over Voter ID Law

The Dallas County Commissioners Court erupted in a shouting match on Election Day over the state's voter ID law.

As voters went to the polls Tuesday, Republican Commissioner Mike Cantrell accused Democratic County Judge Clay Jenkins of "snubbing" Texas Secretary of State John Steen by canceling a press conference Steen scheduled about the new rules last week at the county's health department building.

"I just find that to be totally out of line," Cantrell said.

Jenkins said use of the county building was refused after consultation with the district attorney and county administrator.

"This is a bad law," Jenkins said. "Dallas County isn't going to be a prop for pushing out that it's not a bad law."

Dallas County has sued the state of Texas and the secretary of state to stop the voter ID law, saying it is biased against minority voters, who may be more likely to lack the required picture identification.

"It would have been ill-advised if we were in a press conference with folks that we're actually suing as it relates to voting rights," District Attorney Craig Watkins said.

Cantrell is the only Republican on the Commissioners Court. He was the only one to vote against the county's voter ID lawsuit.

Supporters say the law, which was passed by the strongly Republican Legislature, guards against voter fraud.

Steen held a press conference Monday at another location, where he said voters without identification would be allowed to cast provisional ballots that could be cured later by presenting an ID at the local election supervisor's office.

Cantrell said the secretary of state was not playing politics.

"I think the secretary of state is neutral," he said. "They come and educate the voters on what is required for this election, and it's other people with the partisan politics in there."

Dallas County Election Supervisor Toni Pippins Poole said Tuesday afternoon that one voter visited the election office claiming to have been turned away from a polling place for lack of photo identification. Poole said she told the voter to return to the polling place to cast a provisional ballot.

Poole said turnout for the constitutional referendum election was extremely light.