Texas’ strict voter ID law will be weakened to allow voters lacking required photo identification to cast ballots in a San Antonio special election by signing an affidavit, a federal judge ordered. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi has agreed to an affidavit option for voters facing a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining one of seven photo IDs accepted under state law. Ramos’ order is tailored specifically to the runoff election for the House District 120 seat vacated by former state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, but it marks the first time the state’s voter ID law will be implemented in a watered-down manner. The law has been used since 2013.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Texas’ voter ID measure, considered the most restrictive in the country, violated federal law by discriminating against minorities. The court instructed Ramos to come up with temporary fixes before the November election to ensure the law no longer unfairly harms poor and minority Texans.
Ramos’ first order of business, however, was to approve an interim remedy for the San Antonio special election that will be held on Aug. 2. Early voting started Monday in the contest that is expected to draw about 1,000 voters.
Under the approved plan, voters would be able to fill out paperwork to swear that they could not obtain an appropriate form of ID to vote and would indicate the reason.