The attempt by the Texas Legislature to enact a voter ID law has been tangled in the courts ever since the effort began. According to the Texas Tribune, the latest development occurred when a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans voted two to one to allow Texas to use the current version of Voter ID, passed earlier this year by the Legislature in SB 5, to be used in the 2017 elections.
SB 5 amended a previous voter ID law that required some form of photo ID such as a driver’s license in order to vote. The new bill allowed a voter who did not possess a photo ID to present another form of identification and to sign an affidavit swearing that he or she had a “reasonable impediment” to getting proper identification. SB 5 had been blocked by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who ruled that it had not addressed the objections the courts had raised about the previous law.
Attorney Jake Posey noted, previous attempts to enact a federal ID, both in Texas and other states, most recently North Carolina, have been blocked by the courts because they judged them to be discriminatory against African Americans and Hispanics, who might have more difficulty obtaining photo IDs than white voters. Proponents of voter ID laws maintain that they are necessary to combat voter fraud.
One thing that has changed in the years-long voter ID struggle is the change of presidential administrations. The Obama administration took a dim view of voter ID laws and had filed suit in federal court to block them. The Trump administration has taken the opposite view, having asked the 5th Circuit to reverse the lower court ruling.
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