Friday, September 09, 2016

Justice Department says Texas officials mislead citizens about voter identification rules

The U.S. Department of Justice this week accused Texas officials of purposely misleading voters about the state's controversial voter-ID law, Jordan Rudner reports for The Dallas Morning News. Lawyers for the department say "Texas officials are teaching citizens and poll officials that Texans without photo ID can still cast a ballot, but only if they truly 'cannot' obtain certain forms of ID. In reality, Texans only need to sign a form claiming they have a 'reasonable impediment' to obtaining those forms of ID in order to be allowed to vote." A federal judge will hear arguments on Monday.

"The state’s educational campaign makes it seem like only citizens for whom obtaining an ID would be truly impossible are able to vote, when the bar is actually much lower," Rudner writes. Acceptable forms are "a drivers license, handgun license issued by Texas’ Department of Public Safety, an election ID certificate or personal ID card issued by DPS, a military ID, citizenship certificate, or a passport."

In July the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2011 law—which stipulates the types of photo identification election officials can and cannot accept at the polls—does not comply with the Voting Rights Act. Last month a federal judge ruled that Texans will not be required to present an ID in order to vote in the November general election. Texas leaders have said they want the U.S Supreme Court to rule on the issue.

Republicans favor voter-ID laws, saying they cut down on voter fraud, but Democrats say there is scant evidence of voter impersonation and the laws make voting more difficult for minorities—who are more likely to vote Democratic.

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