Texas’ voter ID law unfairly discriminates against minorities, says a federal court. In light of an appeal, Attorney Craig Seldin explains the process.
The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. unanimously struck down Texas’ controversial voter ID law Thursday. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has vowed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has 14 days from the ruling to do so, according to a recent article in the Morris Daily Herald.
“The Supreme Court of the United States has already upheld Voter ID laws as a constitutional method of ensuring integrity at the ballot box,” says Abbott. “The [court] decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana – and were upheld by the Supreme Court. The State will appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we are confident we will prevail.”
In its 56-page ruling, the trial-level court noted that Indiana and Georgia’s laws were less restrictive than Texas’. The court noted that Indiana Code states that voters may use a photo ID that has “expired after the date of the most recent general election.” The state’s voters may obtain a free ID at a BMV county office or pay a “significantly lower” cost for a birth certificate copy. Likewise, Georgia voters can procure a free ID at an easily accessible office within each county. They also can present various documents to receive a photo ID, including a Medicare statement, and vote with an expired driver’s license.
Texas’ voter ID law, on the other hand, places substantial burdens on the state’s impoverished minorities. They either have to pay $22 for a birth certificate versus Indiana’s range from $3 to $12 or drive far. Eighty-one Texas counties, or about a third, have no DPS office, and others have offices open two days or less. “Even the most committed citizen, we think, would agree that a 200 to 250 mile round trip — especially for would-be voters having no driver’s license — constitutes a ‘substantial burden’ on the right to vote,” the court said.
Now, the Texas Attorney General is seeking to appeal to the highest court in the land. Attorney Craig Seldinsays this could go one of two ways: direct appeal or writ of certiorari. Since the U.S. District Court has declared that the Texas law violates a federal law, the state has a right to appeal. The latter way, which is perhaps the most common, says Seldin, involves the U.S. Court of Appeals. This appellate court is a step above the district court.
Attorney Craig Seldin practices law, including civil rights. He is licensed by the State Bar of Texas and is admitted to practice in the federal Southern and Northern Districts of Texas.