Texas – This Wednesday the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a major blow to the 2011 Texas Voter ID law which has been in effect now since 2013. The main legal challenge against this law, which specifies 7 types of photo identification that must be used to register and vote – has been that it violates the Voting Right Act both because it was passed by the legislature with an intent to discriminate against poor and minority voters and because in practice, it has a discriminatory effect on those groups.
With respect to the discriminatory effect claim, the court advised the following:
“We AFFIRM the district court’s finding that SB 14 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act through its discriminatory effects and REMAND for consideration of the appropriate remedy consistent with this opinion as soon as possible. The district court must ensure that any remedy enacted ameliorates SB 14’s discriminatory effect, while respecting the Legislature’s stated objective to safeguard the integrity of elections by requiring more secure forms of voter identification.”
With respect to the discriminatory intent claim:
“For the reasons stated, … we REVERSE the district court’s judgment that SB 14 was passed with a racially discriminatory purpose and REMAND for the district court to consider this claim in light of the guidance we have provided in this opinion.”
Read more in the Texas Tribune. Read more in the New York Times.
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An August 17th hearing has been scheduled by the Corpus Christi federal district court to determine a fix to the law in time for the November presidential election. The Circuit Court has specified that any implementation plan must allow alternatives for people that are unable to obtain one of the 7 required Id’s as well as a robust voter education campaign.
The district court has already issued an order for an upcoming special election in Texas requiring the use of an affidavit for some registered voters without the required identification. The court’s instructions in that regard are below.
With regard to the special election for Texas House District No. 120 on August 2, 2016, with early voting to begin on July 25, 2016, if a voter seeking to cast a ballot appears on the official list ofregistered voters but does not possess an acceptable form of photo ID due to a reasonable impediment, the following steps shall be taken by the election officer to allow the voter to cast a provisional ballot:
1. Provide the Reasonable Impediment Affidavit form, attached as Exhibit B, or a Spanish language translation thereof, to the voter, and ask the voter to provide one of the following forms of identification:
a. A valid voter registration certificate, or
b. A current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name of the voter.
- If the voter does not have one of the above forms of identification, they must provide their date of birth and the last four digits of their social security number in the space provided on the Reasonable Impediment Affidavit form.
- Ask the voter to complete this form by entering their name, address, and, where applicable, date of birth, and last four digits of their social security number, and then ask them to review the “Voter’s Affldavit of Reasonable Impediment,” indicate their impediment, and sign their name.
- Ask the voter to return the completed form to the election judge. The election judge should indicate at the bottom of the form what type of identification the voter provided. The election judge whould enter the date and sign in the space provided.
- Provide the “Affidavit ofProvisional Voter” envelope to the voter, and ask them to complete the voter portion on the front side of the envelope.
- Ask the voter to return the completed envelope, and on the reverse side, the election judge shall complete their portion. The election judge should mark “Other” and indicate that the voter is casting a provisional ballot due to a reasonable impediment. The election judge should enter the date and sign in the space provided.
- Staple the Reasonable Impediment Affidavit form to the “Affldavit of Provisional Voter” envelope, and the voter shall proceed to cast a provisional ballot.