Ruling Offers Texas Voter ID Critics Narrow Victory

Aug 5, 2015

From the Texas Tribune:

Texas’ four-year-old voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act but is not a “poll tax” barred under the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that the Texas voter ID law – signed into law in 2011 – has a “discriminatory effect” that violates the 50-year old federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting, but it is not an unconstitutional “poll tax”  — partly because of changes made during the 2015 legislative session.

The ruling, a narrow victory for critics of the law, prolonged a long-winding legal battle over legislation that some called the strictest in the nation.

The decision sends the case back to a lower court, which will decide whether lawmakers intended to discriminate when they approved the law. 

The law requires most citizens (some, like people with disabilities, can be exempt) to show one of a handful of forms of allowable photo identification before their election ballots can be counted. Acceptable forms include 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. The acceptable list is shorter than any other state’s.