- SXSW 2014
The three judges of the court unanimously voted against the voter identification law on Thursday, stating it would place limitations upon the voting rights of those who are of minority and low income.
A federal court struck down a Texas law on Thursday that would have required voters to show certain forms of photo identification at the polls. Many UT students would have been adversely affected by the law’s requirement that the address on a voter’s ID card must match the address on the voter registration card.
A federal court on Thursday struck down a Texas law that would have required voters to show certain forms of photo identification at the polls this coming election season.
In order to be enacted, Texas had to prove that the law — passed as Senate Bill 14 during the state’s last legislative session — was in accordance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and would not deny or hinder a minority citizen’s right to vote. In addition, Texas needed to receive “pre-clearance” from the Department of Justice in order to implement the law.
All three judges of the court unanimously voted against the law, stating it would place limitations upon the voting rights of those who are of minority and low income.
“We find that Texas has failed to make this showing,” the judges said in their 56-page ruling. “[I]n fact, record evidence demonstrates that, if implemented, SB 14 will likely have a retrogressive effect.”
"Chalk up another victory for fraud,” said Gov. Rick Perry in an official statement. “Federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas and undermined our effort to ensure fair and accurate elections. The Obama Administration's claim that it's a burden to present a photo ID to vote simply defies common sense."
This isn’t the first time Texas has gone before the U.S. District Court in attempt to change the status quo with voting. On Tuesday, a separate panel of judges in the same court also rejected Texas’ proposal of redistricted maps due to its restrictions placed upon black and Latino voters.
Republicans sought out the proposals to establish strict identification requirements in order to prevent fraud. However, Democrats disagreed, questioning it as a way to restrict minority voting and, in effect, decrease Democratic voter turnout.
Thomas E. Perez, assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, said the law would have disenfranchised Hispanics. “Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card,” he said.
Many UT students, who presumably would have been adversely affected by the law’s requirement that the address on a voter’s ID card must match the address on the voter registration card, also opposed it.
“That doesn’t seem right,” said sophomore Amber Guitron. “I know some of my friends wouldn’t be given the opportunity to vote if the proposal was passed.”
“I can see how it could possibly stop fraud, but even then, I don’t think it should be passed at the expense of minority voters,” said senior Brooke Packheiser. “They make up an important part of the American electorate and should be represented.”
As far as the future is concerned, the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says Texas will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the timeline for that appeal extends past this year’s elections, and Texas voters will be, for the time being, unaffected by the proposed law.
"The Supreme Court of the United States has already upheld Voter ID laws as a constitutional method of ensuring integrity at the ballot box,” said Abbott in an official statement. “Today's decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana — and were upheld by the Supreme Court."