Lawyers from the Texas attorney general’s office presented witnesses Wednesday in federal court defending the state voter ID law as necessary and attempting to rebuff claims that it is discriminatory. The state’s case in the federal trial, now in its second week, relies in part on the written testimony, read in court, of Republican state legislators. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos heard testimony from state Sens. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, and Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, who said that the voter ID law had the support of the vast majority of people across that state. Lawyers from Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office are expected to read testimony from more lawmakers Thursday, including from Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. The law was passed in 2011 and has been in effect since last year. Also Wednesday, witnesses for the state and plaintiffs’ lawyers — representing the U.S. Justice Department, as well as several civil rights groups — sparred over the voter ID law and its effects.
During one exchange, Richard Dellheim, a Justice Department lawyer, tried to discredit an expert witness for the state. Trey Hood, a University of Georgia political science professor, was called by the state to discuss his study that showed the voter ID law in Georgia resulted in suppressed voter turnout in 2008 among people of all races and ethnicities, compared with the comparable election in 2004 before the law was enacted.
Dellheim asked Hood if the study was valid and applicable in Texas. Hood said he thought so, though he later said he couldn’t empirically prove it was.
Dellheim then pointed to other courts’ opinions about Hood’s work, and noted his studies were called “wholly unreliable,” “suspect” and substantially less credible than other studies.
Also Wednesday, Keith Ingram, director of the election division at the Texas secretary of state’s office, testified that voter fraud can occur more easily without a requirement to show a valid form of photo identification.
The state is expected to conclude its case Thursday. Closing arguments are expected Sept. 22.