Texas’ Voter ID Law Goes Before Federal Court Today

Source: Melanie Eversley / USA Today

Texas’ controversial voter ID law goes on trial in Washington starting today, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and other news organizations.

The trial before a panel of judges starts this morning in U.S. District Court in downtown Washington. In the lawsuit Texas v. Attorney General Eric Holder, the state asks the court to approve its law requiring that voters produce a government-issued photo card, and also asks the court to strike down a section of the Voting Rights Act that requires states with a history of voter discrimination to get approval for new voter plans. Student IDs are not accepted under the Texas law.

Texas is one of the states required under the Voting Rights Act to have new voting laws cleared in advance by the Justice Department. In March, the federal agency struck down the 2011 Texas law, saying that based on Texas’ own data, more than 600,000 of the state’s registered voters lack a driver’s license or ID card issued by the state’s Department of Public Safety and a disproportional amount are Latino, the Star-Telegram reports. The Justice Department also maintained that providing free state cards from the public safety agency was not enough because 81 of Texas’ 254 counties don’t have offices, according to the news agency.

Texas Republicans say the law is necessary to combat voter fraud, while Democrats in the state say the requirement will block thousands of poor, elderly and minority voters from the right to vote. Republicans have said that if Democrats cast fewer votes, it’s OK as long as the ID requirement did not target minority voters, the Star-Telegram says.

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