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Dispute Over Texas' Voter ID Laws Heats Up As Testimony Begins

Dispute Over Texas' Voter ID Laws Heats Up As Testimony Begins

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HOUSTON, Texas — On Tuesday President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) gave testimony alongside other plaintiff’s arguing against Texas’ voter ID rules, which were signed into law by Governor Rick Perry in 2011. 

Current Texas law requires citizens to show a photo ID at the polls. Voters must show one of six types of photo IDs; a college ID card, however, is not acceptable. Those opposed to the rules assert that they unfairly target minorities. On Tuesday, six plaintiff’s attorneys made statements, according to the Texas Tribune

Those on the left have also taken issue with the fact that a Texas concealed handgun license is accepted as a valid ID for voting–in their view, this form of ID “shows Republicans are trying to impose obstacles on those who typically vote Democratic,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Attorneys representing the State of Texas argued that the voting guidelines are necessary to ensure integrity in elections. They reportedly asserted that there is no proof that the ability of minority voters was not being neutralized by the rules; all residents of Texas may obtain free IDs at any of the state’s Department of Public Safety locations. 

An assistant state attorney general pointed out that similar photo IDs are used by thousands of Texans everyday to prove that they are who they say they are. 

The Sate of Texas previously wrote in a filing regarding the matter,  “After deposing numerous state legislators and legislative staff members, and after reviewing the record of this case, DOJ is unable to identify any statement made by any Texas legislator or staffer that evinces a desire to harm racial minorities.”

According to the Tribune, Reed Clay said while representing the State of Texas, “This requirement is something that Americans use every day. Cashing a check, opening a bank account or boarding a plane.”

A lawyer from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Elizabeth Westfall, reportedly argued that of the 787,000 Texans who currently do not have proper photo IDs to vote, “Hispanics and African-Americans make up a disproportionate share.”

The Tribune reported that a spokeswoman from the Texas League of Young Voters went so far as to say that the law has a “kinship” with “Texas’ history of discriminating against minority voters.”

According to the AP, during the two elections since Perry signed the rules into law, there were no reports of large number of voters being turned away at the polls. I 2013, election attorneys reportedly logged half the number of complaints as it did during the previous election cycle. 

Ultimately, the trial is expected to last two weeks. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will make the final decision.

Follow Kristin Tate @KristinBTate


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