Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks after ceremonially signing Senate Bill 14, which requires voters to present photo identification at a polling place. Austin, TX on May 27th, 2011. (Governor Rick Perry, 2011. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Texas voter ID law violates the U.S Voting Rights Act and actively discriminates against the impoverished and minorities, according to a ruling by a federal appeals court.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled 9-6 about the law’s effects on African-Americans, Latinos and lower-income voters. The panel consisted of a 15 judges, 10 of which were appointed by past Republican presidents, making it one of the country’s most conservative panels.

The court sent the case back to the district court to: examine the plaintiffs’ claims of the law’s discriminatory nature and find a solution in Texas before the presidential election.

Currently, Texas ranks as 1 of 9 states with strict photo ID laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures – America’s “most respected bipartisan organization.”

Made in 2011 by Senate Bill 14, Texas’ current voter ID law only accepts the following seven forms of photo ID: a Texas driver’s license, a free Texas election identification certificate (EIC), a Texas personal ID card, Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, U.S. military ID card, U.S. citizenship certificate, and a U.S. passport.

In 2014, a lower court ruled that 4.5% of all registered Texan voters lacked a suitable ID under the current law. Challengers of the law such as Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said the law, “held 600,000 Texans away from their right to vote.”

“The most restrictive and discriminatory Republican voter ID law in [the] country has been struck down,” Hinojosa said, calling the ruling a “huge win for voting rights.”

Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of ACLU-Texas, said ACLU was “delighted,” with the ruling that the law excludes minority voters and does not prevent voter fraud.

“This law was nothing less than a brazen and transparent attempt to keep people of color out of the voting booth,” Robertson said.

Supporters of the law argued that the law prevents voter fraud. Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Mechler said the ruling on the law comprised the “integrity of the ballot box.”

“The Republican Party of Texas will not stop fighting to prevent the consistent voter fraud which occurs within the Texas Democratic Party,” Mechler said.

Attorney General and Texas Governor Greg Abbott echoed similar ideas of fraud, citing “the integrity of the election process.”

“As Attorney General I prosecuted cases against voter fraud across the State, and Texas will continue to make sure there is no illegal voting at the ballot box,” he said.

Currently, the case has been sent back to the district judge for re-evaluation.

“The case now goes back to the district judge to fashion a remedy that will make it easier for qualified Texans to cast their ballots this fall and we’re hopeful the result will be more fair,” Robertson said.

 


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.


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