Unanimous turn of voter ID law
The proposed Texas Senate Bill 14, which would have required government-issued photo ID be presented at the election polls, was struck down Aug. 30 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. in a unanimous 3-0 decision.
Judges David Tatel and Robert Wilkins, both former President Bill Clinton appointees, and Rosemary Collyer, appointed by former President George W. Bush, agreed that the law qualified as intentional discrimination against Hispanics and African Americans.
“Unpersuasive, invalid or both,” read Tatel’s description of the defense and justification of the Texas voter ID law.
According to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Texas is prohibited from passing a voting law that in any way hinders the ability of minorities to vote. The court says this law does just that.
“We find that Texas has failed to make this showing — in fact, record evidence demonstrates that if implemented, SB14 will likely have a retrogressive effect,” the court opinion said.
Texas was one of several states that passed new and stringent voter ID laws in the wake of the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. Those states that currently require government-issued photo IDs are Pennsylvania, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Kansas, according to the National Conference of State Legislature’s website.
The bill was introduced January 2011, and the controversy was immediate, as the proposed law would disallow previously adequate forms of ID, like student IDs. After numerous amendments, including one allowing gun permits to be suitable forms of identification, it was sent to Gov. Rick Perry on June 18 and signed into law on June 27.
The basis of SB14, as voiced by proponents of the law, was to combat voter fraud.
“Chalk up another victory for fraud,” said Perry in a statement. “Today, federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas and undermined our effort to ensure fair and accurate elections.”
As of September 2012, there have been 51 convictions for voter fraud in Texas in the past decade. Of those 51, only four have not been associated with voter impersonation, according to www.politifact.com. Additionally, about 60 percent are not classified specifically as convictions.
After the D.C. Court of Appeals ruling, Attorney General Gregory Abbott vowed publicly to appeal, but the actual assistant attorney general, who argued the case, issued no comments on the oral arguments or the opinion.
“Today’s decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana — and were upheld by the Supreme Court,” Abbott said in a statement.
It is unknown if the U.S. Supreme Court will even hear the case in particular.
Assistant attorney general for the Allegany County State’s Attorney’s Office, John Hughes, declined to comment.