Last week, voting rights advocates accused North Carolina Republicans of mounting a procedural end run around a panel of federal appeals court judges, which had ruled that a 2013 election law targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision” and struck it down. On Wednesday, they leveled virtually the same charge against Republicans in Texas, where a 2011 election law was invalidated this summer by another federal appeals court. This time, the advocates had the support of the Justice Department. In one of the nation’s most closely watched voting rights cases, the appeals court ruled in July that the Texas law, which required voters to show one of seven government photo IDs before casting a ballot, discriminated against minorities who lacked the IDs and could not easily get them. A lower court later ordered state officials to let people without IDs vote by signing a statement that they “cannot reasonably obtain” one — and told the state to spend $2.5 million to educate voters and local election officials on the relaxed requirement.
But in a motion filed on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Corpus Christi, advocacy groups and federal lawyers said the state’s education campaign was misleading voters into believing that voting would still be more difficult than it is.
The reason, the motion stated, is that the campaign omits the word “reasonably,” stating instead that voters can cast ballots only if they swear that they “cannot obtain” an identification card. That not only ignores the court’s order, the motion stated, but also leaves voters with the erroneous impression that they cannot vote unless they have exhausted every avenue to acquire an ID.