The U.S. Department of Justice accused Texas officials Tuesday of waging a misleading voter education campaign and squandering money the state was ordered to spend on clarifying the voting process for those without certain forms of government-issued ID. A federal judge will hear arguments on Monday In a letter filed in federal court, lawyers for the department said Texas was advertising a standard “incorrect and far harsher” than is accurate when describing the circumstances under which individuals without specific forms of ID are allowed to vote. The department said Texas officials are teaching citizens and poll officials that Texans without photo ID can still cast a ballot, but only if they truly “cannot” obtain certain forms of ID. In reality, Texans only need to sign a form claiming they have a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining those forms of ID in order to be allowed to vote. A reasonable impediment could include anything from a restrictive work schedule to a “family responsibilities.”
“That the state has stripped the word ‘reasonably’ from the court-ordered phrase ‘cannot reasonably obtain,’ matters significantly,” the lawyers wrote.
In other words, according to the lawyers, the state’s educational campaign makes it seem like only citizens for whom obtaining an ID would be truly impossible are able to vote, when the bar is actually much lower.
Marc Rylander, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, said Paxton’s office was reviewing the motion and would respond by Friday. U.S. District Judge Nelda Gonzalez Ramos said she would hold a hearing on the matter on Sept. 12.