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Voter ID trial concludes

Now we wait for the judge.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Texas’ voter ID law is discriminatory because it was designed to thwart emerging minority voting power in the state and should be dropped, attorneys for the law’s opponents said in closing arguments in a federal court on Monday.

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Richard Dellheim repeated plaintiffs’ claims made throughout this three-week trial that the Texas law, also known as Senate Bill 14, was a “serious solution in search of a problem” and did little if anything to correct voter fraud in the state.

In fact, Dellheim and other attorneys representing Hispanic and African-Americans voters outlined in their closing arguments before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos how the law provides substantial roadblocks for those groups, who would be more likely not to have the kind of photo identification now needed to vote.

“SB 14 simply hits hardest those who can bear the burden the least,” Dellheim said.

[…]

“None of the $400,000 spent to implement SB 14 went towards informing Texans about how to obtain an EIC,” said Chad Dunn, who represents several minority groups in the trial as plaintiffs.

On Monday, plaintiffs attorneys argued that from the start, the state of Texas never made it easy or clear on how to apply for that new ID, one of the many challenges for minority voters. When the trial began earlier this month, plaintiffs had estimated there were 787,000 eligible voters without proper photo ID.

Conventional wisdom is that there won’t be a ruling in time to affect this year’s election, but there’s no way to know for sure. The article in the Corpus Christi Caller reminds us that early voting begins October 20, so mark that date on your calendar. It would be nice to have a ruling against the law before then, but I’m not counting on it.

One point of interest from the state’s summary:

Only one attorney argued for the state of Texas, Adam Aston, the principal deputy solicitor general with the attorney general’s office.

He argued that the plaintiffs failed to prove there was evidence of “intentional discrimination.”

Merely having witnesses testify that there were concerns about discrimination was not enough, he said. And he also argued that 98 precent of the population had access to a DPS office within 25 miles.

“The critical question is what the actual effect SB 14 will have on actual Texas voters,” Aston said.

So as with HB2, the state is basically saying hey, we’re only depriving some people of this right they used to enjoy, and they don’t really count, amirite? One wonders what their formula is for determining what an acceptable distance to travel is for these things. One wonders what their argument would be if, say, Congress passed a law that effectively shut down all gun shops within a 150-mile radius of a few hundred thousand Texas residents. I’m just saying.

Anyway. As with the other high-stakes litigation we’ve seen lately, whatever this judge rules will be appealed, so we won’t know for awhile after that what the final answer is. For full details on the closing arguments, the Brennan Center’s coverage continues to be the gold standard. The NYT, the Associated Press, the Statesman, Rick Hasen, and the Texas Election Law Blog have more.

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