On Wednesday, the federal court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Texas voter ID law violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed by Lyndon Johnson to protect the rights of minority voters granted under the Fifteenth Amendment.
The Texas voter ID law was passed by Republican legislature and signed by Governor Rick Perry in 2011 and went into effect in 2013.
The law requires voters to present an approved form of identification in order to participate in any Texas election. These forms of ID include a state issued driver’s license, an Election Identification Certificate, a military ID card, a concealed handgun license, a citizenship certificate with photograph, or a passport.
Since its inception, the law has been criticized for its discriminatory effects on the voting population. This most recent ruling is reportedly the fourth time in four years that
“a federal court found that the Texas law discriminated or disproportionately affected black and Hispanic voters.”
As the New York Times reports, more than 600,000 registered voters in Texas lack the required forms of identification and an inordinate number of these individuals were black or Hispanic.
While a person can be granted an election identification certificate for free, they must first present a copy of their birth certificate.
The federal court’s ruling will most likely not result in the removal of the voter ID law altogether, but will instead lead to revisions that will assist voters who lack the necessary identification, and this may very well result in the allowance of a voter registration card to be used as a form of ID.
The ruling is viewed as a “big victory” by Democrats and voting rights activists, while Republican Governor Greg Abbott describes the decision as a mistake, stating that
“voter fraud is real and it undermines the integrity of the election process.”
With the 2016 election quickly approaching, cautious changes will need to be made soon, with a remedy that will eliminate the law’s prejudiced effect of minority voters.