The U.S. Justice Department joined Texas’ attorney general Wednesday in asking a federal court to delay a hearing on the state’s voter ID law, the latest signal that the federal government might drop its opposition to the law now that Donald Trump is president. In the joint filing, the Justice Department and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked to delay next Tuesday’s hearing until summer because the Texas Legislature is considering changes to the existing law, which a federal court has found to be discriminatory. Barack Obama’s Justice Department had joined the lawsuit contesting it.
Senate Republicans this week introduced a revised voter ID bill that could address problems courts have identified with the existing Texas law, namely the lack of an affidavit process for voters who are unable to obtain one of seven forms of state-approved photo identification.
Last year, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos required Texas to allow people without an accepted ID to vote by signing a sworn declaration stating they have a reasonable impediment to obtaining one. Twenty Senate Republicans backed a bill that would make the affidavit option permanent and would also create stiff criminal penalties of two to 10 years in prison for lying on a sworn declaration. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made the legislation a priority.