A federal appeals court revived Texas’s voter ID law Tuesday, saying the state’s updated version does enough to protect the right to vote for everyone in the state.
The 2-1 decision rejects the findings of a lower court, which had said blacks and Hispanics would disproportionately suffer by struggling to show ID when voting.
In backing Texas, the court said the state accommodated voters by allowing those without an ID to cast a ballot as long as they swear under penalty of perjury that they are legal voters.
That, the court said, would solve the problems for each of 27 different voters who had said they lacked ID.
The judges said that with elections looming, it made sense to stick with the existing law rather than change things up.
“A temporary stay here, while the court can consider the argument on the merits, will minimize confusion among both voters and trained election officials,” the judges said.
Judges Jennifer Elrod and Jerry Smith, both appointed by GOP presidents, backed Texas’s law.
Writing in dissent, Judge James E. Graves Jr., an Obama appointee, said another appeals court struck down a similar voter-ID law in North Carolina last year, ruling the underlying law was intended to discriminate against minorities, so it was unconstitutional no matter what.
Texas had enacted one of the stiffest voter-ID laws in the country but Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, an Obama appointee to the district court, blocked it in 2014, finding Texas intended to discriminate.
Texas added its new attestation provision to try to solve her complaints, but late last month she ruled the law was still too harsh.
The appeals court Tuesday delivered a bit of a spanking to Judge Ramos, saying she “went beyond” the limited scope of what she was supposed to be decided by looking at Texas’s updated changes.
The U.S. Justice Department, which under President Obama had opposed Texas, sided with the state now that President Trump is in office.
A Justice Department spokeswoman cheered Tuesday’s decision.
“Preserving the integrity of the ballot is vital to our democracy, and the Fifth Circuit’s order allows Texas to continue to fulfill that duty as this case moves forward,” the spokeswoman said.
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