Texas is spending $2.5 million to spread the word about changes to its voter ID law before the November election but will not release details about how the money is being used. More than half of that taxpayer money will go toward an advertising campaign, according to court filings. Yet state officials will not say which markets they intend to target with television and radio spots. As part of its outreach effort, the state will send “digital tool kits” to an estimated 1,800 organizations across Texas to engage local communities on voter education. State officials will not identify those groups. And documents related to both have recently been sealed by a federal judge at the request of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.
The sealed filings are part of the strategy guiding an education campaign Texas is rolling out at the direction of U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi. A federal appeals court last month ruled that Texas’ voter ID law discriminates against minorities and ordered Ramos to soften the measure for November.
Ramos has since expanded the types of identification that can be presented at the polls to cast a ballot, and required Texas to inform voters and election officials across the state about the changes.
The judge has also granted a request from Paxton’s office to keep some details of the outreach plan under court seal, preventing public scrutiny of such things as which regions state officials could target with ads and which groups have been identified to receive education materials.