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1968, Part 2: TX Voter ID Law Violates Voting Rights Act but Isn’t Entirely Struck Down by Court

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The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has confirmed that a Texas voter identification law violates the Voting Rights Act. For the fourth time in as many years, the law was found to be discriminatory, disproportionately affecting blacks and Latinos. The identification requirements are considered the strictest in the nation:

Senate Bill 14 requires voters to present one of seven forms of photo ID at the polls: a Texas driver’s license, state personal identification card, state license to carry a handgun, U.S. military identification card, U.S. citizenship certificate, U.S. passport or Texas Election Identification Certificate. The law is considered the nation’s strictest because the list of acceptable IDs is narrower than any other state’s. Texas has spent more than five years defending the law in court.

Many minority voters simply do not have the necessary forms of ID, and they face significant obstacles in obtaining the required documents. Democrats and voting rights advocates celebrated the ruling as an important victory in a battle that could ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court. It feels as though the fight for the most basic American right will never end.

Still, the ruling didn’t strike down the law entirely. Instead, it requires the implementation of new procedures that would assist potentially disenfranchised voters who lack the proper forms of identification:

In its ruling, the Fifth Circuit asked a lower court judge to come up with a remedy that “disrupts voter identification rules for the 2016 election season as little as possible, yet eliminates” the law’s discriminatory effect on minority voters. One possible solution, the court noted, would be to allow voter-registration cards to be used as identification. The court also instructed the judge to re-evaluate the evidence about whether the Texas Legislature intentionally discriminated against blacks and Hispanics, but encouraged the judge to wait until after the November election.

A lower court judge found that about 608,000 registered voters in Texas lacked the types of identification required by the law, and that a disproportionate number were black or Hispanic.

SB 14 was passed by the Republican legislature and signed into law by. Gov Rick Perry in 2011. It was enacted in 2013. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has not yet decided whether to appeal the decision.


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