September 23, 2016

Texas appeals voter ID rulings to U.S. Supreme Court

United States Supreme Court

Texas wants to take its voter identification battle to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the justices to hear his arguments about why the state’s photo ID requirements for voting do not discriminate against Hispanics and African-American voters.

“Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy,” the Republican said in a statement. “Voter ID laws both prevent fraud and increase the public’s confidence in our elections. Texas enacted a common-sense voter ID law and I am confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately reinstate it.”

Texas officials say the voter ID law prevents voter fraud, which Gov. Greg Abbott has called “rampant.” But opponents — backed by court rulings — have pointed out that in-person voter fraud is incredibly rare.

Friday’s filing is Paxton’s last-ditch attempt to salvage the requirements after a string of defeats in court.

In July, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed lower court rulings that the 2011 law, known as the nation’s strictest, violates the federal Voting Rights Act. In a 9-6 ruling, the conservative court agreed that narrowly tailored requirements disproportionately affected minority voters — those who were less likely to hold one of seven types of photo ID. Those include: a state driver’s license or ID card, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card, a U.S citizenship certificate or an election identification certificate.

Paxton’s Supreme Court appeal will not affect the Nov. 8 elections, which will take place with relaxed requirements.

Following the July ruling, a federal judge ordered Texas to allow qualified voters to cast a ballot – even if they arrive to the polls without photo identification.

They may sign an affidavit certifying they are U.S. citizens and present proof of residence, such as a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.

Friday’s petition continued the photo ID law’s convoluted legal journey. As of April, Paxton’s office had spent more than $3.5 million defending it, records show.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at