Top Texas Republicans unveiled legislation Tuesday that would overhaul the state’s voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that have found that the current law discriminates against minority groups. Filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, Senate Bill 5 would add options for Texans who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of seven forms of ID currently required at the polls. It would also create harsh criminal penalties for those who falsely claim they need to choose from the expanded list of options. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has granted the bill “priority” status, carving it a faster route through the Legislature. Nineteen other senators have signed onto the bill, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who is still defending the current ID law in court — applauded the legislation Tuesday.
In a statement, Paxton said the proposal would both ensure the “the integrity of the voting process” and comply with court rulings that have found fault with the current law, considered the nation’s strictest.
Chad Dunn, a Houston-based attorney for groups suing the state over that law, called the legislation “a step in the right direction.” “The state is acknowledging the federal court’s conclusion that the (current) law is discriminatory,” he said Tuesday.
Last July, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas’ 2011 voter ID law discriminated against minority groups, who were less likely to possess one of the acceptable types of identification: a state driver’s license or ID card, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card, a U.S citizenship certificate or an election identification certificate.
Full Article: Texas Republicans pitch new voter ID law | The Texas Tribune.