Five years ago, Texas passed one of the strictest Voter ID laws in the country. The legal fight began immediately and has continued through this day, with critics of the law getting some assistance from the Obama administration’s Justice Department.
Now, with Republican Donald Trump set to ascend to the Oval Office, the law’s future is more uncertain than ever. Among the questions up in the air: Whom will Trump nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death, and how will a Trump-led Justice Department operate compared to the current administration?
“We’re not going to stand idle when a law is discriminatory,” said Leah Aden, senior counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “The strategy may be different depending on who is in office, but we’ll fight it regardless of who’s in power.”
In July, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas’ 2011 voter ID law discriminated against minority groups, who were less likely to possess one of seven accepted types of identification. For this year’s presidential election, a federal judge ordered a temporary fix: Voters who possessed photo ID had to show it in order to cast a ballot, but those who didn’t could still vote if they presented an alternate form of ID and signed a form swearing a “reasonable impediment” kept them from obtaining photo ID.
The court’s complicated compromise was not implemented seamlessly. Voters from across the state reported instances of poll workers or signs at polling places incorrectly informing visitors that they couldn’t vote without a photo ID.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in September, hoping the country’s highest court would consider his arguments for why the state’s photo ID requirements do not discriminate against Hispanic and African-American voters.
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