Handing the state another voting rights loss, a federal judge has sided with a civil rights group that claimed Texas violated federal law by failing to register residents to vote when they updated their drivers’ license information online. In a court order made public on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio ruled that Texas was in violation of the federal National Voter Registration Act. A portion of that law requires states to give residents the opportunity to register to vote at the same time that they apply for or renew their driver’s licenses.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Garcia will direct the state to comply with the law; Garcia indicated he will provide more details in the next two weeks. But the Texas Civil Rights Project, which represents several Texas voters in the case, said the state would “soon be forced” to change its voter registration policies — and possibly introduce its first mechanism for online voter registration.
“For too long, the state of Texas has ignored federal voting rights laws intended to ensure that all eligible voters have an opportunity to register to vote,” said Beth Stevens, voting rights director at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “We look forward to seeing deep changes in [the Texas Department of Public Safety’s] voter registration practices in the coming months, affecting well over a million Texans every year.”