Texas Voter ID Law Struck Down
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
In early August 2015, a 3-person federal appeals court panel ruled that Texas’ strict Voter ID Law has a discriminatory effect on minorities and therefore violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Though both sides of the argument claim victory, it is a clear win for civil rights advocates.
The court did hesitate to find the law intentionally discriminatory and sent the matter back to a lower court to determine whether the Texas law is intentionally discriminatory and, if so, what the remedies should be. Finally, the court suggested that the lower court could reinstate the use of voter registration cards or allow a voter to sign an affidavit stating he/she does not have an acceptable form of identification before being allowed to vote
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark law signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, has suffered some rather severe attacks in the recent past, which directly affected Texas’ Voter ID law. Passage of the Texas Voter ID law was unsuccessful in 2011 but quickly successful in 2013 after the U. S. Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required states to submit any changes to its election laws to the federal government or in federal court. Once that Section was struck down, Texas quickly passed its Voter ID Law.
Though challenged in federal court and called an unconstitutional “poll tax” that intentionally discriminated against minorities, the U. S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas Voter ID law to remain in effect during the November 2014 midterm elections in which 600,000+ Texans lacked the required government-issued photo ID for voting.
The ball is now in Texas’ court. The state can appeal to the full 5th Circuit appeals court or direct its appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court.
By Kathy Catanzarite
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