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Feds Accuse Texas of Misleading On Relaxed Voter ID Requirements

Tamir Kalifa
Texas Tribune

The federal government is accusing Texas of circulating “inaccurate or misleading information” to poll workers and would-be voters about relaxed identification requirements for the November elections.

“Limited funds are being spent on inaccurate materials,” the U.S. Department of Justice wrote in a legal filing Tuesday.

The filing asked U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos to “issue corrections to past press releases and other public statements” by Texas officials and “update and redistribute all electronic resources to reflect that all voters” without one of seven types of photo identification required by a 2011 Texas law may cast a ballot in November.

Ramos last month ordered Texas to spend $2.5 million to educate the public about relaxed identification requirements for the looming elections — an attempt to ward off any confusion after a federal appeals court struck down the state’s strict photo identification law — often referred to as Senate Bill 14 — as discriminatory.

Ramos ordered Texas to educate voters about "the opportunity for voters who do not possess SB 14 ID and cannot reasonably obtain it to cast a regular ballot.”

The Justice Department argues that Texas has recast the language of that order by limiting voting to those with photo IDs or those who “have not obtained” and “cannot obtain” such identification.

The key difference, the filing states, is that Texas has stripped the word “reasonably."

“That standard is incorrect and far harsher than the Court-ordered standard it would displace,” the Justices Department argues. “By recasting the Court’s language, Texas has narrowed dramatically the scope of voters protected by the Court’s Order.”

Texas refuses to change the language, the filing states, and the state officials believe they are following the court order.

Marc Rylander, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, said his office is "currently reviewing the DOJ’s motion and will file a response by Friday.”

Under Gonzales’ order, voters without ID this November can sign an affidavit certifying they are U.S. citizens and present proof of residence, such as a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck. Texas must provide these affidavits in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese. 


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