Federal court rules Texas Voter ID law violates Voting Rights Act

Posted on 06 Aug 2015 at 11:00am
Official Photo_Rep Marc Veasey

Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Texas’ voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act, but is not an unconstitutional “poll tax.”

The court agreed with a lower court’s decision the law had a “discriminatory” effect, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But the three-panel court also rejected the law created a “poll tax” and sent the case back to a lower court for reconsideration.

Under the current law, voters must present a state driver’s license or ID card that is not more than 60 days expired at the time of voting, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card or a U.S citizenship certificate with a photo before voting.

Many opponents argued the law, passed by the legislature in 2011, created an unconstitutional barrier or “poll tax” for racial minorities, college students and transgender individuals.

Both sides declared the ruling a victory.

Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, and lead plaintiff in the case, applauded the bittersweet victory.

“As a champion for voting rights, I am proud that with this decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has taken the first steps towards ensuring that all Texans have unfettered access to the ballot box,” he said in a statement.

“Voter ID laws make it needlessly difficult for millions of Americans to vote, including LGBTQ people, people of color, women, students, people with low income, homeless people, people with disabilities, and people who live in rural areas,” National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Executive Director Kate Kendell said in a statement.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also called the ruling a victory in a statement.

“The intent of this law is to protect the voting process in Texas, and we will continue to defend this important safeguard for all Texas voters,” he said.

A court date has not been set.

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