Shortly after an appeals court ruled Texas’ voter identification law to have discriminatory effects requiring fixes before the November election, a federal judge released guidelines for a remedy on Thursday.
Corpus Christi-based federal district court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, an Obama appointee, released a scheduling order providing the parameters for how the discriminatory effects of the law can be “ameliorated” in time for voting in the 2016 Election without scrapping the Texas Legislature’s intent to protect against voter fraud, according to court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas.
In sum, voters possessing an acceptable form of identification under SB 14 must provide it at the polling place. A solution for those without proper ID is due from the parties by August 17.
Judge Ramos outlined a six-point guide for what an interim fix should look like:
- All Texas voters who currently possess photo voter ID or “have the means to get it in time” for the 2016 Election are expected to show it;
- No additional form of identification “that is easily counterfeited” may be allowed;
- Homeless and those able to demonstrate a legitimate impediment to acquiring ID must be allowed to use their voter registration postcard;
- Texas must execute a public education initiative about the ID requirements, exceptions and interim ID alternatives;
- Texas election officials must provide new training to poll workers on the original voter ID requirements and interim rules; and
- The interim plan must only focus on fixing the discriminatory effects of the law, leaving the question of whether it was written with discriminatory intent for after the 2016 contests.
The scheduling order requires that all parties to the lawsuit, Veasey v. Abbott, meet by July 29 to “determine what the plan terms may be subject to agreement. All sides must set forward their proposals by August 5 with a court hearing scheduled on August 17 to discuss “any remaining differences.”
Breitbart Texas recently reported on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that triggered the new round of discussions between the parties:
The appellate court maintained that the law was not passed with discriminatory intent, nor is it designed as a poll tax, effectively removing all constitutional claims against it. The Court further ruled that the lower district court must put in place an “interim remedy” to mitigate the “discriminatory effects” some may feel from the law:
“The district court’s immediate responsibility is to ensure the implementation of an interim remedy for SB 14’s discriminatory effect that disrupts voter identification rules for the 2016 election season as little as possible, yet eliminates the [Voting Rights Act] Section 2 discriminatory effect violation.”
The Court cautioned that the district judge “ensure that any remedy enacted ameliorates SB 14’s discriminatory effect, while respecting the Legislature’s stated objective to safeguard the integrity of elections by requiring more secure forms of voter identification.”
The case now continues in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division. A copy of the scheduling order has been provided below.
Logan Churchwell is the Assistant Editor and a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. You can follow him on Twitter @LCChurchwell.
Editor’s note: Logan Churchwell serves as the Communications Director for Houston-based True the Vote – a nonprofit that attempted to intervene in defense of the voter ID law in 2013.