Hearing on voter ID outreach set for Monday

Once more into the breech, to see if the state needs to get slapped down again.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Texas officials will be back in federal court next week to defend the state’s voter ID law, this time against accusations that they have failed to comply with judge-ordered changes for the November election.

Monday’s hearing comes at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a complaint last week arguing that Texas was misleading voters and poll workers about acceptable voting procedures and who will be eligible to cast a ballot on Nov. 8.

Obama administration lawyers say Texas is violating U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos’ Aug. 10 order requiring state officials accept a wider array of identification — and spend at least $2.5 million informing voters of the changes — after a federal appeals court ruled that the Republican-favored voter ID law, enacted in 2011, discriminated against minority voters.

“That order is of limited use if Texas refuses to train poll workers and educate voters accurately on its plain language and scope,” Justice Department lawyers told Ramos in the complaint.


The latest legal fight revolves around language that Texas adopted to comply with Ramos’ order.

Instead of focusing on opportunities to vote, Texas adopted language saying only those with a government-issued ID or those who “have not obtained” such identification were eligible to vote, the Justice Department argued. The instructions are needlessly restrictive and would require poll officials to reject eligible voters, including those whose ID was lost or stolen and those who had to surrender identification to the state, the agency said.

In a court filing late Monday, Paxton said the language adopted by the state recognizes that Ramos ordered changes that allow registered voters to cast a regular ballot if they can demonstrate an impediment or difficulty in obtaining a government-issued ID.

“Individuals who have an acceptable form of ID but left it at home — or who choose not to show it, even if they have one — are not the intended beneficiaries of the court’s order,” Paxton told Ramos.

See here for the background. The state’s argument is certainly one way to interpret the court’s order, and as we have seen similar language has been used by at least some County Clerks, including Stan Stanart here in Harris County. It’s not the only possible interpretation, and taking such a view would seem to put local election officials as well as election judges in the position of cross-examining voters – “Are you SURE you don’t have a drivers’ license? I’m not sure I believe you” – which I trust you’ll agree opens a can of worms that would be best left unopened. The number of people who are temporarily without an accepted form of ID due to loss or theft or whatever, whom the plaintiffs argue are covered by the judge’s order, is likely small. The number of people who really do own an accepted piece of ID but who forget (or “forget”) to bring it with them to the polls is likely even smaller. I don’t see why we should worry about the latter group, especially if it is at the cost of the former. We’ll see what the judge says.

And speaking of Stan Stanart:

Monday’s hearing, set to begin at 5 p.m. in Ramos’ Corpus Christi courtroom, also will include a separate complaint filed by civil rights groups, political leaders and others claiming that Paxton and Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart have tried to intimidate voters by promising to pursue perjury charges against anybody who lies on the declaration by stating that they do not have a government-issued ID.

You can see that separate complaint here. The plaintiffs argue that the state has not responded in any way to Stanart’s comments, thus endorsing them. The concern they voice is that in the absence of any response from the state, such statements could “turn this Court’s remedy into a threat, and the right to vote in upcoming elections into a snare and a delusion”. The Lone Star Project has more.

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2 Responses to Hearing on voter ID outreach set for Monday

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Maybe a suit should be filed against stores that put up signs that say “shoplifters will be prosecuted,” because that’s intimidation. That’s the logic being proffered up here.

  2. brad m says:


    Your comment above could be the lamest and most inaccurate comment I’ve seen on this topic.

    My preference would be to have a sign put up in front the state capitol that says “self serving lying bigots who enact discriminatory voting ID laws will be prosecuted”.

Comments are closed.