Texas Notifies Federal Court about Voter ID Reform

Texas voting
AP Photo

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an advisory last night with the federal district court judge who is overseeing the voter ID litigation against the State.

The move comes right after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the new voter ID law, Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), on Thursday. A hearing in the case is set for June 7.

The advisory notifies Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos that:

SB 5 adopts a reasonable-impediment declaration procedure allowing voters who do not have and cannot reasonably obtain a qualifying photo ID to cast a regular ballot upon execution of a reasonable-impediment declaration.

The advisory adds:

Senate Bill 5 cures any alleged discriminatory effect caused by the State’s photo-voter-ID requirement. Plaintiffs have alleged throughout this case that SB 14’s photo-ID requirement would impermissibly burden their right to vote because they did not possess and could not reasonably obtain a form of photo ID required by the law.

Texas legislators incorporated into SB 5 the changes ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

In February 2017, the U.S. Justice Department announced it would be dropping its claim of intentional voter discrimination against the State, more closely aligning with the Fifth Circuit’s prior finding that the law only carried a discriminatory “effect”, the NPR reported.

Breitbart Texas has followed the litigation since an Obama appointee issued an injunction right before early voting started in October 2014.

J. Christian Adams, a former DOJ election law attorney and president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, cheered the matter in a statement provided to Breitbart Texas.

“Texas has dutifully followed the guidance and findings from the 5th Circuit to better assist voters in complying with its voter ID law,” Adams explained. “States should constantly seek opportunities to better serve their voters by tailoring election integrity reforms to fit the needs of their citizens over time. No truly ‘discriminatory’ state would ever entertain the reforms that SB5 puts into law.”

Judge Ramos issued an opinion holding that the Texas voter ID law “constituted an unconstitutional poll tax.” The judge sitting in the Corpus Christi Division of the United States District Courts for the Southern District of Texas also opined that “SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose.”

In February, Breitbart Texas reported that Texas lawmakers were fast-tracking SB 5 filed by Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston). SB 5 makes permanent a voter ID “safety net” that allows individuals without proper documentation to cast a ballot if they sign an affidavit. The declaration of impediment explains the individual’s reason for noncompliance and provides a pre-approved, alternative form of identification. It allows voters with disabilities, or those claiming to lack transportation or to have work schedule conflicts, family responsibilities, or lost/stolen IDs, and other issues, to state their reasons for not having a photo ID on the form. These citizens must provide a birth certificate, government document, or a bank statement. Anyone who lies on the form could face a third degree felony charge.

“I applaud Governor Abbott for signing Senate Bill 5, which codifies changes to the voter ID law ordered by the 5th Circuit. Preserving voter ID will prevent fraud and ensure that election results accurately reflect the will of Texas voters,” said AG Ken Paxton in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.

Texas Attorney General Paxton Advisory to Federal Court Re New Voter ID Law by lanashadwick on Scribd


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