Statement of Ryan P. Haygood, NAACP Legal Defense Fund Attorney
Who Made Closing Arguments at Trial for Plaintiff-Intervenors  

“Today’s decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowing Texas’s intentionally discriminatory photo ID law to be used in the upcoming elections does not engage the overwhelming weight of the District Court’s factual findings.  While the Fifth Circuit’s decision in no way reaches the merits of this case, it places in harm’s way the votes and voices of more than 600,000 registered voters, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, who will be denied access to the fundamental right to vote in this election.  We are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will block the enforcement of the law for upcoming elections. All of Texas’ citizens deserve to have their voices heard in this election.

“Federal District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos carefully considered Texas’ photo ID Law, weighed the evidence from a two week trial with nearly 40 witnesses, and wrote a thoughtful 147-page opinion in which the court found that the Texas legislature enacted the ID with the intent to discriminate against Black and Latino voters. The court meticulously examined the law and concluded that it discriminates against people of color, like its poll tax predecessor. Texas should be helping its citizens vote, not blocking their ballot access. Black and Latino voters are disproportionately affected by the burdensome requirements created by the photo ID law.

“At trial, the court heard that hundreds of thousands of registered voters from Texas do not have the required ID to vote. Citizen after citizen testified about the challenges of getting the accepted forms of identification. Sammie Bates, a low-income, senior, black woman, testified that she was on a fixed income and the photo ID law forced her to choose between voting and feeding her family. She spent the $42 it would have cost to purchase a birth certificate on food because, she told the court, ‘We couldn’t eat the birth certificate.’  

“What the Court did not hear about at the trial was a single incident of in-person voter fraud at the polls. So the State of Texas is violating the Constitutional rights of its citizens under the guise of extinguishing a problem that is at best a figment of its imagination and at worst is a complete fabrication.

“This law does all harm and no good. The Fifth Circuit’s decision to stay Judge Ramos’ well-reasoned opinion based on extensive factual findings will not stand.”