However long it’s been, they’re back at it.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived a 2021 Texas law that set new residency requirements for voter registration, including one that civil rights groups alleged essentially blocked college students from signing up.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling that blocked most of the law for creating an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.
The judges found the groups, LULAC and Voto Latino, failed to prove they had endured harm as a result of the law and therefore lacked standing.
“It’s unfortunate that we have such a conservative, anti-voting rights 5th Circuit,” LULAC President Domingo Garcia said. “We’ve been representing Latinos of Texas since 1929. This is the first time in recent memory a court has ruled we do not have standing. We believe we were right on the merits that this is a voter suppression bill that should be overturned.”
Garcia added that the group plans to request a rehearing by the full court, which is often considered one of the most conservative courts in the country.
Senate Bill 1111, which took effect Sept. 1 of last year, requires that anyone using a P.O. Box to register must also provide documentation of a physical residential address, such as a photocopy of a driver’s license.
It also prohibits voters from establishing or maintaining a residence “for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a certain election.”
Lastly, it bars voters from establishing a residence in a place they have not inhabited or at a previous residence, unless they live there at the time of the designation and intend to remain there.
“It’s a recognition of the obvious that they really didn’t have standing and they are not harmed because all (the bill) does is simply say: Don’t register at an impossible address,” said state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, who authored the bill.
LULAC and Voto Latino had argued that the law had forced them to have to divert resources toward educating the public about the changes and it chilled their speech when it came to what they could say about how to register to vote.
Garcia said LULAC spent more than $1 million to counteract election laws like SB 1111, but the judges sided with Texas in finding that the group failed to show how such expenses were directly related to that law, as several election laws were passed in 2021.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel mostly left the P.O. Box provision in-tact, reasoning that the state has an interest in preventing voter registration fraud and the request for verification of a physical address is not a severe burden. A response to that request with a new address, Yeakel clarified, should be considered a change of address with no further action needed.
Yeakel had enjoined the two other provisions. He argued that there are valid reasons for changing an address that may influence the outcome of an election but not in a malicious way, such as “voting, volunteering with a political campaign, or running for an elected office.”
The final provision relating to where a person lives or intends to stay would make registration near-impossible for college students, senators or other groups of people who live in multiple locations throughout the year, Yeakel said.
“The burden imposed is ‘severe,’ if not insurmountable,” Yeakel wrote. “Such an insurmountable burden is not easily overcome … And the possible repercussions are not just complete disenfranchisement, but also criminal liability.”
See here for the background. You will note that I anticipated this outcome, so at least I’ve got that going for me. I would just like to know, if this law is constitutional, if we can prevent certain lowlife perennial candidates from registering at warehouses around town for the purposes of establishing “residency” to run for office. I’m sure the Fifth Circuit will be able to justify that, I would just like to see them do it.