The Dallas Morning News reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that Texas’ voter ID act violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling, however, is narrow and neither a complete win nor loss for either side. Red would support such a law if there was one iota of evidence that in-person voter fraud is a real problem. Everyone who knows anything about elections in Texas knows the real hanky-panky occurs with the mail-in ballots and the current law does absolutely nothing to prevent massive abuse in that regard.
The hard part of the ruling to swallow is the Fifth Circuit’s finding that the intent of the law was not to discriminate against minority voters. Red understands that is tough fish to land, but come on . . . really? Even in Texas, the GOP is scared because the angry old white men that are dying off are being replaced by young brown ones. Gerrymandering will work for a while, but demographic destiny takes over at some point, and with the legacy that Patrick and Abbott are leaving, recruiting Hispanics and Blacks to the Grand Ol’ Party is going to be a tough sell. If they can cut minority voting by even a percent or two, then they might just hang on for a couple of more election cycles past their expiration date.
In an unanimous decision, a three-judge panel ruled that the controversial and Republican-backed measure violated Section 2 of the landmark civil rights law. The law has been part of a complicated legal battle for years.
But the victory was narrow win for opponents of the law. The judges also rejected a previous judge’s ruling that the law was passed with the intent to discriminate. The Fifth Circuit sent that portion of the lawsuit back to a U.S. district court.
The court wrote that, if the lower court finds in its review of the case that the voter ID Law only violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, it should find a solution that can still reduce the risk of in-person voter fraud and satisfy the legislative intent of the voter ID law.
“Simply reverting to the system in place before SB 14’s passage would not fully respect these policy choices — it would allow voters to cast ballots after presenting less secure forms of identification like utility bills, bank statements, or paychecks,” the court wrote in a 49-page opinion.
Texas could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or the state also could ask the full 5th Circuit to review the case. But now, a fight over what exactly the complicated ruling means is more imminent.