The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit struck down voter ID requirements currently being challenged in Texas in a ruling Wednesday. In a 9-6 decision, the court ruled that the law had a discriminatory effect on minorities, a decision that will likely put this issue before the Supreme Court in the 2017 term. This makes the third straight court to rule against the Texas law; a Supreme Court decision in this case could have a national impact when it comes to requiring voters to show ID.
According to the law’s detractors, the Texas requirements would have stopped more than half a million residents from voting. The court said that the law itself was not intended to keep certain voters out of the ballot booth, but that the effects themselves were still unfair.
“The district court must ensure that any remedy enacted ameliorates discriminatory effect, while respecting the legislature’s stated objective to safeguard the integrity of elections by requiring more secure forms of voter identification,” read the ruling.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly released a statement condemning the verdict. “Preventing voter fraud is essential to accurately reflecting the will of Texas voters during elections and it is unfortunate that this common-sense law, providing protections against fraud, was not upheld in its entirety,” Paxton said.
As with all political issues, you have to wade through a lot of partisan smoke to get to anything resembling the truth. Democrats accuse Republicans of crafting these laws just to keep minorities from voting. Republicans accuse Democrats of trying to commit voter fraud. And so the wheel turns.
Are there Republican legislatures trying to get one over on minority voters? Who can say? But until that is proven in a court of law, it’s an irresponsible accusation.
Even if that could be proven, however, it wouldn’t make voter ID requirements any less sensible or any more racially discriminatory. There is nothing about a person’s skin color that makes it more difficult to get a driver’s license, and that will still be true no matter how many judges declare otherwise. ID is a simple, effective way to reduce fraud and instill confidence in our election system. If blacks and other minorities are having a tough time getting identification, let’s address that as a separate issue.