AG Paxton: Texas will appeal voter ID ruling

Pei Wei Asian Diner on Mc Kinney Avenue in Dallas on Aug. 7 2017

Pei Wei Asian Diner on Mc Kinney Avenue in Dallas on Aug. 7 2017

Senate Bill 5 was to take effect in January 2018. "Now Texas must return to nondiscriminatory ID practices in voting, which do not require photo ID".

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the ruling "outrageous" and said Texas will appeal.

Ramos had temporarily softened the state's voter ID rules for the 2016 elections, and the new law somewhat followed her lead.

Ramos, however, said the change still would have a discriminatory and chilling effect, "replacing the lack of qualified photo ID with an overreaching affidavit threatening severe penalties for perjury".

In the revised version, the Texas Legislature allowed voters who did not possess an approved ID were allowed to fill out a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment (DRI), explaining the reason they did not have an ID. Because those potential voters are more likely to be black or Latino, the law was discriminatory, she said.

That's the big victor in Gonzales Ramos's case against Texas.

She said the missing Other category would make some registered voters avoid voting out of fear that checking the wrong box could get them prosecuted for perjury. "The record reflects historical evidence of the use of many kinds of threats and intimidation against minorities at the polls-particularly having to do with threats of law enforcement and criminal penalties".

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"Because of ignorance, a lack of confidence, or poor literacy, they may be unable to claim an impediment to which they are entitled for fear that their opinion on the matter would not comport with a trained prosecutor's legal opinion".

The judge's decision also stated that the state of "Texas couldn't be trusted to educate voters about changes to its ID law, following its widely criticized efforts ahead of elections in 2016 that were marked by confusion at the polls".

Under the law, voters were required to show one of seven kinds of government-issued ID in order to vote. Concealed handgun permits made the list, but not student IDs. She did not rule on whether Texas' election laws would be put under federal oversight, but said she would consider the issue during the next phase of the case. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos rejected Senate Bill 5 on Wednesday, finding that the revised law remained discriminatory because it didn't expand the list of acceptable IDs.

The ruling is also a setback for the Trump administration, which had argued that the interim law "removes any discriminatory effect or intent the court found in SB 14 and advances Texas' legitimate policy objectives in adopting a voter ID law". Kay Bailey Hutchison is President Trump's U.S. Ambassador to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

It was the second setback in a week for Texas in voting rights cases.

On August 17, the Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled that Texas' restrictions on assistance to non-English-speaking voters violated the Voting Rights Act.

"From discriminatory gerrymandering to discriminatory voter ID laws, it has become entirely clear that Texas Republicans are rigging our election system", Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, told The Associated Press.

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