Texas’s strict voter ID law, struck down last week, is now back in place thanks to an appeals court ruling Tuesday. But while the state was pushing to get the law reinstated, it stopped issuing IDs. It said Wednesday morning that it has started again. The on-again-off-again schedule could add to the hurdles and confusion that voters face in obtaining an ID. And it offers a window into the GOP-controlled state’s approach to voting: In a nutshell, critics say, Texas jumped at the chance to stop issuing IDs, even though it was far from clear that a halt was required by law. From the start, voting rights advocates have noted in court and in the media that Texas’s efforts to make the special state IDs it created — known as Election Identification Certificates (EICs) — available to those who need them have been half-hearted at best. Among other things, they’ve charged that the mobile ID offices that the state created for distributing IDs were poorly publicized, and weren’t sent to nearly enough locations. Between June 2012 when the law went back into effect and the end of August, just 279 EICs were issued, the state has said.
Over 600,000 registered voters in Texas, disproportionately minorities, lack ID. About twice as many eligible voters are in the same boat.
And Texas appears to have seized on the ruling last week, striking down the law as an excuse to weaken their efforts at issuing IDs even further. Before the ruling late Tuesday afternoon reinstating the law, Texas argued that under Saturday’s injunction that blocked the measure, it was barred from issuing EICs.
“Under the current injunction, the state cannot issue Election Identification Certificates,” Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Texas Secretary of State, told msnbc via email Tuesday early afternoon.