(Brendan Clarey, Liberty Headlines) The difference between the former and current administration’s approach to election integrity is coming to light in Texas over voter identification laws.
President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice backed a new Texas law, saying that it “cures any discriminatory effect,” as a U.S. District Judge determines if a voter ID law enacted in 2011 – known as Senate Bill 14 – is discriminatory.
The new Senate Bill 5, signed last month by Gov. Greg Abbott, allows voters to present more acceptable forms of ID, as well as sign a form that explains why they were unable to get necessary ID.
“Here, the Texas Legislature adopted in S.B. 5 a legislative remedy ‘responsive to’ the ‘order[s]’ of this Court and the en banc Fifth Circuit,” the current Dept. of Justice filing states. “The ‘[r]easonable choice’ to adopt this remedy belonged to ‘the legislature not the courts,’ even if it is possible to imagine a broader remedy.”
Trump’s DOJ made it clear that the new law addresses the issues that the Obama administration’s Justice Dept. lawyers condemned for being discriminatory, marking the change in policy very clearly.
“Accordingly, S.B. 5 removed any ‘discriminatory taint’ in Texas’s voter ID law, ‘render[s] the current [voter ID] law valid,’ and forecloses an injunction and a declaratory judgment,” the current DOJ says about the new legislation.
Obama’s Justice Department was against the 2011 legislation, calling it discriminatory for those who can’t receive the types of identification necessary to vote, a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, according to the Independent Voter Network. A District Court judge and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals agreed.
“For six years, the Department of Justice stood on the side of voters arguing that Texas’ unnecessary voter photo ID law was enacted with discriminatory intent, then after the new administration was sworn in, one of DOJ’s first acts was to back out of the case,” said Chad Dunn, a lawyer representing challengers to the 2011 law, to the Texas Tribune.
“Every court to rule on the subject found Texas’ law to be discriminatory,” he said. “And Supreme Court precedent, which binds us all, including DOJ, requires Texas to go back to the drawing board in a non-discriminatory process if it wishes to mess with the right to vote.”
The new legislation extends validity to photo identification up to four years after it expires, “allows voters over the age of 70 to use any form of acceptable photo identification regardless of expiration date,” and creates a program where voters can sign an affidavit saying that they have a “reasonable impediment” in obtaining ID including non-photo IDs. Those who attempt to vote without photo ID and present other forms of identification, but are later discovered to have actually had a photo ID, could be charged with a felony.