Tags: Texas | voter | ID | law

Texas Allowed to Enforce Voter-ID Law in Nov. 4 Election

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 06:18 PM

Texas’ voter-identification law, struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge, can be enforced for the Nov. 4 election, an appeals court said in a ruling that could help Republicans.

The appeals panel in New Orleans today granted emergency permission to keep the law in effect while the state appeals a trial judge’s ruling, which included a finding that 600,000 voters would be disenfranchised.

Today’s decision will slow the momentum of Democratic efforts to increase voter turnout and boost a push by some Republican-controlled statehouses to make people prove their eligibility to vote. Republicans say the measures are needed to prevent fraud, while Democrats contend they’re designed to suppress turnout of poor and minority voters, who are less likely to have photo IDs and more likely to vote Democratic.

The three-judge appellate panel said today’s decision was “based primarily on the extremely fast-approaching election date.” The trial judge’s decision to block the law “substantially disturbs the election process of the state of Texas just nine days before early voting begins,” the appeals court said. “The value of preserving the status quo here is much higher than in most other contexts.”

Supreme Court

On Oct. 9, the day a judge declared the Texas law unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin’s photo-ID requirement, possibly hurting incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker in his fight against Democrat Mary Burke. Pennsylvania’s law was barred by a state court judge this year. Arkansas’s photo-ID requirement was also challenged in court.

Texas asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans for emergency permission to keep its law in place at least through the midterm elections on Nov. 4. The state said voters and poll workers would be confused by changes as to what ID is required so close to an election.

“The binding precedent of the Supreme Court forbids remedies that may cause voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls,” Texas said in a court filing.

Texas asked to keep the law in force while it fights to permanently reinstate it. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi ruled the law is unconstitutional and intentionally discriminates against blacks and Hispanics. She concluded the measure disenfranchised more than 600,000 legally registered voters who can’t show one of seven approved government-issued ID cards to vote in person.

Two Instances

The state was able to find only two instances of in-person voter fraud among more than 62 million votes cast in all Texas elections during the preceding 14 years, according to trial testimony.

The U.S. Justice Department and a coalition of minority-rights groups asked the court to uphold Ramos’s decision that the law’s burden on poor, elderly and minority voters outweighed the state’s concerns about voter fraud.

“The United States does not question a state’s legitimate interest in protecting against voter fraud and ensuring the integrity of its elections,” Justice Department lawyers said in their filing. “But states may not enact racially discriminatory laws” that violate the Voting Rights Act “merely by invoking that interest.”

‘Train Wreck’

Activists who sued to overturn the law told the appeals court enforcement of it in three statewide elections this year had been “a train wreck.” Little has been done to educate low- income voters on what documents they need or where and how to get them, they said.

They asked the court to uphold Ramos’s order for Texas to return to more simplified voter-ID requirements used for a decade prior to the new law’s passage. Previously, acceptable identification at the polls included voter registration cards, utility bills that proved residency at that address, student IDs, government-employee IDs and expired drivers’ licenses, among other possibilities.

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Texas' voter-identification law, struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge, can be enforced for the Nov. 4 election, an appeals court said in a ruling that could help Republicans.The appeals panel in New Orleans today granted emergency permission to keep the law in...
Texas, voter, ID, law
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2014-18-14
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 06:18 PM
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