Voter ID

Illustration by Todd Wiseman

After seven long years of litigation, opponents of Texas' voter ID law say the case is over.

In a court filing on Wednesday, opponents of the law requiring Texas voters to present photo identification to vote told a federal district judge that the case was settled and that they would not pursue any other remedies or changes to the law they first challenged in 2011 as discriminatory against voters of color.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Monday that it was OK for Ohio to remove people from voter registration rolls if those voters skip a few elections and then fail to respond to a notice from election officials. Ohio claimed this was necessary for the proper upkeep of voter registration lists and to prevent voter fraud.

Republicans have been pushing for such restrictions without much actual evidence of fraud, while Democrats have often seen such moves as attempts to suppress voting. What does the ruling mean for Texas?

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard.

If you didn’t vote in this week’s primary runoff elections, you’re hardly alone. In fact, you are in the vast majority. According to the Texas Election Source, fewer than 1 million ballots were cast in both parties’ primary runoffs. For the Democrats, it was the lowest primary runoff turnout with a governor’s race on the ballot in almost a century. The Texas Election Source reports the Republicans actually had one of the highest turnouts for a runoff election year, but the percentage of voter participation was still just around 3 percent.

Graphic by Cheryl Gerber

A federal appeals panel on Friday OK'd state lawmakers' efforts to rewrite Texas' embattled voter ID law to address discriminatory faults previously identified by the courts. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard.

On Monday, the Washington Post broke the story of the now-defunct voter fraud commission purchasing Texas voter records. The story began:

“President Donald Trump’s voting commission asked every state and the District of Columbia for detailed voter registration data, but in Texas’ case it took an additional step: It asked to see Texas records that identify all voters with Hispanic surnames, newly released documents show.”

Officials from both the White House and the state of Texas say the data was never delivered, because of a lawsuit brought by Texas voting rights advocates after the request was made.

Flickr/Steve Rainwater (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Conflict over Texas’ voter ID law was in the courts for most of last year, and 2018 will probably be no different. The state’s restrictive voter ID law, passed in 2011, has been found by courts to have been crafted with discriminatory intent. Now it’s up to a three-judge panel to decide, among other things, whether Texas’ new law, designed to fix problems with the old law, goes far enough. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Welcome to the 2018 Elections!

This could be a historic year at the ballot box. Republicans are looking to sweep all the statewide offices again, but Democrats have fielded more candidates for more races than they have in years. To help you navigate through all of this, we’re starting a weekly column. It’ll include not only the politics at play, but also information on the basics, like how to register or find your polling place.

Cheryl Gerber for The Texas Tribune

NEW ORLEANS — State officials and the minority rights groups suing Texas over its strict voter identification restrictions are headed back to court.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Tuesday over the state's recent revisions to its 2011 voter identification law and whether those changes cure legal issues with the original law. The recent changes — which softened previous voter ID requirements considered among the toughest in the nation — were passed in response to court rulings that the 2011 law discriminated against Hispanic and black voters.

Laura Skelding / Texas Tribune

A Texas district judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos from handing voter information to President Donald Trump's voter fraud investigation commission.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

The state of Texas can use its revised voter ID measure for the upcoming November elections, a divided federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

A federal judge in Corpus Christi has issued a permanent injunction against Texas' voter ID law, which required voters to show one of several approved forms of photo ID before casting a ballot.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Brendan Steinhauser, a political strategist living in Austin, uses the state’s voter file all the time.

“The voter file is quite simply a list of voters who are registered to vote,” he says. “You can also obtain their voting history to see if they have voted in past elections.”

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Texas’ new voter identification law fully absolves the state from discriminating against minority voters in 2011, and courts should not take further action in a battle over the state’s old voter ID law, President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice argued in a legal filing Wednesday

KUT News.

From Texas Standard:

The 2011 Texas voter ID law was one of the strictest such laws in the nation. It required Texans to show one of seven approved forms of photo identification to vote.

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again declined to reinstate North Carolina's strict voter ID law, which was struck down last year after a court ruled it was intentionally designed to stop African-Americans from voting.

The nation's highest court refused to consider an appeal by North Carolina Republicans, NPR's Pam Fessler reports.

"Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the court's refusal to consider an appeal did not signify an opinion on the merits of the case," Fessler says.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Several weeks ago, a federal court ruled Texas lawmakers intentionally diluted the voting power of minorities when it drew up congressional districts in 2011; last week the same court ruled the Texas House maps also were drawn with the intent to discriminate.

Today, the court begins hearings on how to remedy this situation, which could include requiring the state to get federal preclearance before any new maps or voting rules go into effect.

Spc. Carlynn Knaak/Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

From Texas Standard:

There's nothing unusual about a state lawmaker and a mayor being worried about turnout in a local election. But in Dallas, it's not just low turnout that's got two local leaders concerned. It's the cause.

 

Mrs. Gemstone/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A federal judge has ruled for the second time that a Texas law has intentionally discriminated against minority voters.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Texas lawmakers intended to discriminate when they passed a strict voter ID law in 2011, a federal judge has ruled.

Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate tentatively approved legislation Monday that would revamp the state’s voter identification rules, a response to court rulings that the current law discriminates against minority voters.

Following more than an hour of debate, the chamber voted 21-10 to move the bill to a final vote, likely later this week. 

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

A Texas Senate panel cleared legislation Monday that would overhaul the state's voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that the current law discriminates against black and Latino voters.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-0 to send the legislation to the full chamber.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:

Three months before Election Day, a federal judge issued an order forcing Texas to allow people to vote without a photo ID as long as they signed an affidavit claiming a reasonable impediment to obtaining one.

Only a small percentage of voters signed them but officials in Tarrant County are asking their district attorney to investigate 15 affidavits that may have been issued improperly.

Rogi.Official/Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard:

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed Monday that it no longer intends to argue Texas' voter ID law intentionally discriminates against minorities. The DOJ had opposed the law on those grounds during the Obama administration.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Department of Justice is ditching its longstanding position that Texas lawmakers purposefully discriminated against minority voters by passing the nation’s strictest voter identification law in 2011, according to lawyers who are challenging the state’s law.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Between 16,000 and 17,000 Texans who said they had trouble getting a voter ID were able to sign an affidavit and vote in the last presidential election, thanks to a court order. Now lawmakers want to make it a felony if a voter signing such a form “knowingly makes a false statement or provides false information.”

Jeff Kubina/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The U.S. Supreme Court is denying the State of Texas' appeal in case over the state's voter ID law.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Months after a federal appeals court ruled that Texas lawmakers discriminated against African-American and Latino voters in passing a strict voter identification law, the Obama administration and civil rights groups are asking a judge to go a step further — by finding that the lawmakers did it on purpose.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The voter ID law caused a lot of confusion at the polls during this year’s election. There were even lawsuits filed, but the fight over voter ID was already sure to stay alive in the courts.

In fact, the seemingly endless battle over the Texas voter ID law might get more complicated.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

More than 50 percent of registered voters in both Travis and Williamson counties have already cast ballots during early voting. If you weren't among them, now is your chance to make your voice heard.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

Before you head out, here are a few things you might want to do.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Since early voting started last week, there’s been some confusion about the Texas voter ID law.

This summer, a court ordered the state to change the law and then spend $2.5 million educating voters about those changes. But, voting rights groups say that last part hasn’t gone so well, and some experts say the language used to communicate those changes could be part of the problem.

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