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Rapid changes leave questions for Voter ID law

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Last Thursday, Federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Rios, of Corpus Christi, ruled that Texas’ voter identification law was equivalent to a poll tax, and would have a negative impact on millions of Texas voters.

On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals preempted that decision, choosing instead to s

tay the decision until after the Nov. 4 election.

“On Saturday, October 11 — just nine days before early voting begins and just 24 days before Election Day — the district court entered a final order striking down Texas’s voter identification laws,” the appeals court said in its order. “By this order, the district court enjoined the implementation of Texas Senate Bill 14 of the 2011 Regular Session, which requires that voters present certain photographic identification at the polls. The district court also ordered that the State of Texas instead implement the laws that were in force before SB 14’s enactment in May of 2011. Based primarily on the extremely fast-approaching election date, we STAY the district court’s judgment pending appeal.”

That decision, which temporarily reverses the Rios decision, means that more than 13.6 million Texas voters will be required to acquire some form of photo identification before heading to the polls later this month.

In Caldwell County, Elections Administrator Pamela Ohlendorf said the decision is not expected to have a wide-reaching impact, but she said her office remains vigilant about making sure that people have the proper identification.

“In the past, we have not had any issues with voters not providing any identification,”Ohlendorf said on Wednesday morning. “With exception of one having an expired license and one refusing to show ID, {we had] one that did not have the required ID.”

Ohlendorf said she was concerned about the students from Gary Job Corps having the proper required identification to participate in the election, but reported that most have received Election Identification Certificates.

Still, a mobile station issuing Election Identification Certificates will be on site at Gary Job Corps on Friday, Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We worked very hard to get that scheduled and make it available for our voters,” Ohlendorf said. “And we’re very happy that they were able to get the mobile station scheduled.”

Additionally, Ohlendorf said, her office will continue to help voters who do not otherwise have the required photo identification to acquire Election Identification Certificates through her office at 1403 Blackjack St., in Lockhart.

Election Identification Certificates are provided free of charge to voters who do not already have other forms of acceptable identification to comply with the controversial voter identification law. Those forms include: Texas driver license issued by the Department of Public Safety (DPS); Texas personal identification card issued by DPS; Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS; United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph; United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph; or United States passport.

Applicants for an Election Identification Certificate will need to present proof of citizenship and identity. For most applicants that means a birth certificate and two forms of supporting documentation. A complete list of documentation requirements is available at: http://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/eicDocReqmnts.htm.

EICs are issued by the DPS and are available at DPS driver license offices. Mobile stations provide additional locations for voters to acquire an EIC. The stations are made available by a joint initiative with the Texas Secretary of State’s office and DPS.

The Republican-backed voter identification law has drawn fire from opponents since it was passed in 2011. The main concern, particularly among Texan opponents, is that the law would reduce voter turnout among young and minority voters.

However, Attorney General Greg Abbott has a different perspective on the law.

“Texas voters have understood that they are required to show up at the polls with photo IDs, and poll workers have understood that they are required to check for them,” Abbott said after Rios issued her ruling last week.

Rios, an appointee of the Obama Administration, asserted the law, “creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose.”

In several states throught the nation, higher courts are taking up the discussion of voter identification laws, with both Wisconsin and Kansas among states that are expecting decisions this week that could change the face of the Nov. 4, 2014, General Election.

In Texas, while the stay issued by the Fifth Circuit will quell concerns about major procedural changes on the eve of the election, it is expected that the discussion will restart in earnest, possibly as soon as Nov. 5.

Early voting for the Nov. 4, 2014, General Election begins on Monday, Oct. 20. Follow future editions of the Post-Register, or follow us online at www.post-register.com for more on developing election details.

 

 

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1 comment

  1. JOPSE SAENZ 17 October, 2014 at 18:52 Reply

    JUDGE RIOS SOUNDS LIKE SHE THINKS LATINOS AND BLACKS ARE TOO IGNORANT TO GET ID,S AND IS A STRAIN ON THEM.
    WELL YOUR HONOR WE ARE NOT AND WE DO HAVE THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE NEEDED TO GET SIGNIFICANT EMPLOYMENT, BUY ON CREDIT, GET BEER OR CIGARETTES.
    BEER OR CIGARETTES??? MAYBE I SHOULD FILE A DISCRIMINATION SUIT BECAUSE MY AGE HAS TO BE VERIFIED FOR THAT. MAYBE VOTING IS NOT AS IMPORTANT.
    YOU HAVE PERSONAL AND PARTY REASONS FOR NOT WANTING ID’S FOR VOTING JUDGE. ONE ILLIGAL VOTE IS ONE TOO MANY. ANY IDIOT CAN GET AN ID, YOU AND I DID.
    REQUIRING AN ID HAS OTHER BENEFITS TO VOTERS.

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