U.S. News


Texas' Long Legal Battle Over Its Voter ID Law Hits Another Snag

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a revised version of the state's voter ID law is still discriminatory.
Posted at 11:13 AM, Aug 24, 2017

A federal judge in Texas once again threw out the state's voter ID law and said it was discriminatory against African-Americans and Hispanics.

Texas originally passed its voter ID law — then called Senate Bill 14 — in 2011. It required voters to show one of seven forms of approved voter ID at the polls, including a driver's license, a concealed handgun license or a passport.

Texas argued these strict requirements were necessary to prevent voter fraud, but U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos threw out the law in 2014, calling it an "unconstitutional poll tax."

An appeals court ordered Ramos to reconsider if the law had a "discriminatory intent," but the judge reaffirmed her initial ruling in April.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a revised version of the law — called Senate Bill 5 — in June.

Under this version, registered voters who didn't have an acceptable photo ID could still vote if they signed an affidavit and provided documentation with their name and address — like a utility bill or bank statement.

If voters lied about why they could not procure an accepted form of photo ID on that affidavit, then they could face up to two years in jail.

On Wednesday, Ramos said Senate Bill 5 was "an improvement" but also said it didn't solve the discrimination issue with the original law. She issued a permanent injunction against enforcing either version.

In a statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the ruling "outrageous" and said he will appeal.

Paxton said the U.S. Justice Department had argued on behalf of the revised law. The Justice Department under the Obama administration was one of the parties to sue Texas over the original voter ID law in 2013.