Greg Abbott

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Editorials: Defending indefensible isn’t cheap | San Antonio Express-News

About this time last year, the cost for Texas to defend redistricting maps was around $3.9 million. Add at least $1 million after a federal appeals panel last week awarded that amount to attorneys challenging the maps. According to the opinion, the Texas attorney general’s office’s response to a court order was woefully inadequate. Let’s be clear. We’re talking about the previous administration under now-Gov. Greg Abbott.
Here’s what else is inadequate — the state’s approach to redistricting altogether. But this latest cost adds a different wrinkle. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines of the panel’s decision to conclude the state’s approach on these legal fees involved a degree of incompetence. Texas was appealing a court order last year that it pay legal fees to lawyers who challenged the maps.

Full Article: Defending indefensible isn’t cheap - San Antonio Express-News.

Texas: State again ordered to pay lawyers’ fees in redistricting case | Austin American-Statesman

In a scolding tone, a federal appeals court panel in Washington, D.C., ordered the state of Texas on Tuesday to pay more than $1 million in attorneys’ fees in a case challenging district boundaries drawn by the Republican-led Legislature. First under the direction of then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and now under Attorney General Ken Paxton, the state has been fighting a court order for more than a year to pay the lawyers who battled the state over the issuance of redistricting maps for the Texas House, Texas Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

Full Article: Texas again ordered to pay lawyers’ fees in redistricting case | www.statesman.com.

Editorials: Texas Voter ID law is discriminatory, un-American and needs to be amended | Raúl A. Reyes/Fox News Latino

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a panel of federal appeals court judges in Texas last week ruled against the state’s Voter ID law. They agreed that the law violated the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, because it disproportionately impacted Latino and African-American voters. In response, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement, “Texas will continue to fight for its voter ID requirement to ensure the integrity of elections in the Lone Star State.” Texas’ Voter ID law is a solution in search of a problem. While in theory it fights voter fraud, in reality it has disenfranchised thousands of minority voters. Texas’ Voter ID law deserves to be amended or dismantled so that all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot box. True, these days a valid ID is necessary to board a plane or to buy alcohol. But travelling or buying beer is not a constitutional right; voting is.

Full Article: Opinion: Texas Voter ID law is discriminatory, un-American and needs to be amended | Fox News Latino.

Texas: Abbott Opposes Curbs on Dark Money | The Texas Tribune

All that Republican infighting about revealing political “dark money” during the just-concluded session of the Texas Legislature was probably for naught. Gov. Greg Abbott has come out firmly against the idea. Speaking at a news conference Monday in the Capitol, Abbott said he had already written about the issue when he was on the Texas Supreme Court, telling reporters that legislation requiring secret political donors to come out of the shadows would violate the U.S. Constitution. Proponents of dark money disclosure dispute the claim.

Full Article: Abbott Opposes Curbs on Dark Money | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: How many voters were disenfranchised by Texas’ ID law? | MSNBC

Both sides are already making claims and counterclaims about the impact of Texas’ strict voter ID law in last week’s election. There’s no question that some legitimate voters were disenfranchised by the law. But how many? Perhaps a large number — but the truth is, nobody knows. The difficulty of gauging the law’s effect, at least in the election’s immediate aftermath, points to an irony that has characterized the voter ID controversy nationally: Though lawyers challenging ID measures have marshaled reams of compelling evidence to show how they could keep voters from the polls, individual elections are not well-suited to demonstrating the impact. That’s not stopping partisans from jumping into the debate. At a post-election event last week, Gilberto Hinojosa, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said the ID law was “a large part of the reason” for the decline in state’s 2010 turnout (though he also said that Texans who didn’t turn out “need to look at yourself in the mirror”). His Republican counterpart, Steve Munisteri, just as confidently dismissed the idea. Around 600,000 registered Texas voters don’t have one of the limited forms of ID that the law allows, according to evidence presented at trial. The state did almost nothing to challenge that assessment. That means there’s no doubt whatsoever that the law disenfranchised legitimate voters. MSNBC met with several of them last week.

Full Article: How many voters were disenfranchised by Texas' ID law? | MSNBC.

Texas: Turnout Down in Texas, and Democrats Claim a Reason: Voter ID Law | New York Times

Say this for the state’s new voter ID law — it gave Texas Democrats a patsy for the thumping they got on election night. Some Democrats blamed the law for keeping their voters at home last week. At the same time, another type of voting was growing — one that is historically more likely to result in election fraud. In his bid for re-election last week, Senator John Cornyn finished 27.2 percentage points ahead of his Democratic opponent, David Alameel. Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who led every public poll conducted during the race for governor, proved those surveys right, finishing more than 20 percentage points ahead of the much-vaunted Wendy Davis, a Democrat. Mr. Abbott finished with more raw votes and a higher percentage of the total than Gov. Rick Perry in 2010. Ms. Davis finished with both a lower percentage of the vote than her 2010 counterpart, Bill White, a Democrat, and a lower vote count. The overall number of votes cast in this year’s election was less than in 2010 — by about 271,000. Although that appears to be part of a national trend, Texas Democrats blamed the state’s voter ID law, which they say discourages people from showing up.

Full Article: Turnout Down in Texas, and Democrats Claim a Reason: Voter ID Law - NYTimes.com.

National: Voters encounter faulty machines, website crashes and other sporadic Election Day problems | Associated Press

Voters around the country encountered malfunctioning machines, website crashes and delayed polling place openings, but the problems for the most part appeared sporadic rather than systemic and there was no immediate indication that they factored in the outcome of an election. Beyond routine mechanical problems, the midterm elections Tuesday also represented for some states the first major tests of new voter identification laws that opponents say disenfranchise minorities and the poor. In Texas, where the U.S. Supreme Court last month let stand a strict photo ID law, there were reports of “voter confusion about how and whether their votes would be counted,” according to Election Protection, a voter advocacy coalition. The law, which Democrats had said would prevent roughly 650,000 people from casting a ballot, meant voters had to show one of seven approved kinds of photo identification. The law has not previously been used in congressional elections or a high-profile race for governor such as the one Tuesday, won by Republican Greg Abbott.

Full Article: Voters encounter faulty machines, website crashes and other sporadic Election Day problems | Star Tribune.

Texas: What’s ahead in Texas voter ID battle | Austin American-Statesman

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott won the most recent round in the fight to require voters to show valid photo identification to cast ballots, but a potentially much bigger fight looms beyond Tuesday. Abbott’s victory has only short-lived implications, since last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed Texas to enforce its voter ID law will affect only Tuesday’s election. But later a federal judge may decide whether Texas should once again be required to ask for permission from the federal government before enacting changes to election laws, a ruling that could affect Texas and possibly other states for years. “That might be bigger than the ID issue itself,” said Richard Hasen, an election law expert and a professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Texas and North Carolina, which also has a voter ID law facing a legal challenge, are test cases for the Justice Department, Hasen said.

Full Article: What’s ahead in Texas voter ID battle | www.mystatesman.com.

National: The Supreme Court Eviscerates the Voting Rights Act in a Texas Voter-ID Decision | The Nation

In 1963, only 156 of 15,000 eligible black voters in Selma, Alabama, were registered to vote. The federal government filed four lawsuits against the county registrars between 1963 and 1965, but the number of black registered voters only increased from 156 to 383 during that time. The law couldn’t keep up with the pace and intensity of voter suppression. The Voting Rights Act ended the blight of voting discrimination in places like Selma by eliminating the literacy tests and poll taxes that prevented so many people from voting. The Selma of yesteryear is reminiscent of the current situation in Texas, where a voter ID law blocked by the federal courts as a discriminatory poll tax on two different occasions—under two different sections of the VRA—remains on the books. The law was first blocked in 2012 under Section 5 of the VRA. “A law that forces poorer citizens to choose between their wages and their franchise unquestionably denies or abridges their right to vote,” wrote Judge David Tatel. “The same is true when a law imposes an implicit fee for the privilege of casting a ballot.” Then the Supreme Court gutted the VRA—ignoring the striking evidence of contemporary voting discrimination in places like Texas—which allowed the voter ID law to immediately go into effect. “Eric Holder can no longer deny #VoterID in #Texas after today’s #SCOTUSdecision,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott tweeted minutes after the Shelby County v. Holder decision. States like Texas, with the worst history of voting abuses, no longer had to approve their voting changes with the federal government. Texas had lost more Section 5 lawsuits than any other state.

Full Article: The Supreme Court Eviscerates the Voting Rights Act in a Texas Voter-ID Decision | The Nation.

Texas: Supreme Court to decide if Texas voter ID law can take effect | Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court is set to decide whether Texas can enforce its new photo-ID rule in time for this year’s midterm election. The case reached the court Wednesday in an emergency appeal. Critics asked justices to block the rule, arguing it discriminates against minorities. Last week, a federal judge decided that the rule could prevent as many as 600,000 registered voters from casting a ballot and that Texas lawmakers who approved the law intended to make it harder for blacks and Latinos to vote. Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, quickly appealed. On Tuesday, the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans lifted the judge’s order and said the photo-ID law can be enforced in this year’s election for the first time. It “is virtually unheard of,” civil rights advocates complained, to permit a state to enforce a new election law “in a case where purposeful racial discrimination has been found in a final judgment after a full trial.”

Full Article: Supreme Court to decide if Texas voter ID law can take effect - LA Times.

Texas: Appeals court reinstates Texas voter ID law | Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Tuesday reinstated Texas’ tough voter ID law for the November election, which the U.S. Justice Department had condemned as the state’s latest means of suppressing minority voter turnout. The ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocks last week’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi, who determined the law unconstitutional and similar to a poll tax designed to dissuade minorities from voting. The 5th Circuit did not rule on the merits of the law; instead, it determined it’s too late to change the rules for the upcoming election. Early voting starts Oct. 20. The law remains under appeal. For now, the ruling is a key victory for Republican-backed photo ID measures that have swept across the U.S. in recent years. The Texas law, considered the toughest of its kind in the nation, requires that an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters will need one of seven kinds of photo identification to cast a ballot.

Full Article: Appeals court reinstates Texas voter ID law - Houston Chronicle.

Texas: Supreme Court ruling could thwart Texas’ appeal in voter ID case | Dallas Morning News

An unexpected U.S. Supreme Court order setting aside a voter ID law in Wisconsin could spell trouble for Texas as it tries to appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking down Texas’ own photo-identification requirement. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was taking steps Friday to appeal the decision overturning the Texas law. But some election law experts pointed to the Supreme Court’s order blocking implementation of Wisconsin’s similar voter ID requirements before the Nov. 4 election. The high court, 6-3, handed down an emergency order in the Wisconsin case over the objections of the panel’s three biggest conservatives — Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. The majority, including Chief Justice John Roberts, provided no explanation in the order. Because the Texas and Wisconsin laws are similar — with Texas’ law considered the strictest in the nation — Abbott’s appeal could run into a roadblock even if he is initially successful with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That is where he will lodge his appeal of Thursday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi.

Full Article: Supreme Court ruling could thwart Texas’ appeal in voter ID case | Dallas Morning News.

Editorials: The Courts Weighed In on Restrictive Voting Laws Just in Time | Russell Berman/The Atlantic

A flurry of last-minute court decisions is upending voting rules in key states less than a month before the midterm congressional elections. The Supreme Court on Thursday night blocked a restrictive voter ID law in Wisconsin after opponents said it would cause “chaos” at the polls and noted that ballot forms had already been sent out to voters that did not make clear they needed to provide identification. The brief order by Justice Elena Kagan overturned a September decision by an appellate court, over the opposition of conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. Also on Thursday night, a lower federal trial court struck down a 2011 voter ID law in Texas with a scathing opinion determining that the statute, which was designed to combat voter fraud, “creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose.”

Full Article: The Courts Weighed In on Restrictive Voting Laws Just in Time - The Atlantic.

Texas: Appeals court poised to act quickly in Texas voter ID case | Austin American-Statesman

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Saturday told the U.S. Department of Justice and other plaintiffs suing to overturn Texas’ voter identification law that they have a day to respond to an emergency motion by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Abbott’s filing Friday with the federal appeals court — made up of mostly conservative judges — asked for expedited consideration to undo a ruling by a lower court last week that struck down the state’s voter ID law. U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi had agreed with the plaintiffs when she ruled Thursday that the Texas voter ID law, one of the strictest in the country, was unconstitutional. Ramos’ opinion didn’t include a final judgment, prompting Abbott to ask for guidance.

Full Article: Appeals court poised to act quickly in Texas voter ID case | www.mystatesman.com.

Texas: Court filings dispute timing of lifting Texas’ voter ID law | Houston Chronicle

Advocates and opponents of Texas’ voter ID law faced off in documents Sunday over whether the now-unconstitutional requirement should be lifted as early as next week, with both sides arguing that their timeline would better prevent confusion at the polls. In a filing made public Sunday, the state of Texas wrote that declaring the law void only a week before early voting begins will seep confusion into this year’s election cycle. The state is asking for an emergency delay, or a stay, in the U.S. District Court’s order until after Nov. 4 while Greg Abbott, the attorney general and Republican nominee for governor, appeals the lower court’s ruling. The plaintiffs, who won Thursday when the district judge in Corpus Christi said the law constituted a modern-day “poll tax” and discriminated against minority voters, replied in their own filing Sunday that the courts could not allow a law deemed unconstitutional to govern an election, even if that meant changing election law at the last minute.

Full Article: Court filings dispute timing of lifting Texas' voter ID law - Houston Chronicle.

Texas: Abbott defends Texas voter ID law | Houston Chronicle

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott insisted on Thursday that the state’s voter ID law has not adversely affected turnout, a day before testimony in a federal court case challenging the legislation is slated to end. “There is absolutely zero proof, zero proof, that there is any suppression of the vote whatsoever because of voter ID laws,” Abbott, the favorite to win November’s gubernatorial race, told the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board. The 2011 law, which took effect the following year, requires voters to show one of seven kinds of photo ID in order to vote, with or without a voter registration card. It was initially blocked after a federal court ruled that it discriminated against minorities. 

Full Article: Abbott defends Texas voter ID law - Houston Chronicle.

Texas: Democrats ask for federal probe of AG raid that targeted voter sign-up group | Dallas Morning News

Democratic congressmen from Texas have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a raid by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office that targeted a nonprofit voter registration group. The Dallas Morning News reported Aug. 31 on the attorney general’s criminal investigation of Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. The probe was closed one year later, with no charges filed. Following the armed raid in 2010, the funding for Houston Votes dried up. Its efforts to register more low-income voters in the state’s most populous county, Harris, ended. The group’s records and office equipment were destroyed under a court order obtained by Abbott’s office last year. In a Sept. 10 letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the 12 Democratic House members from Texas asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into the matter. “This raid raises serious concerns about the biased use of state resources to prevent Texans from legally registering to vote,” the letter said. Texas has 36 House districts, with Republicans holding 24 seats. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the investigation request is being reviewed.

Full Article: Texas Democrats ask for federal probe of AG raid that targeted voter sign-up group | Dallas Morning News.

Voting Blogs: State of Texas v. Women: is Texas violating the 19th Amendment? | State of Elections

What do Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis, State Senator Letitia Van De Putte, Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, and U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Watts all have in common? They all apparently have high potential for committing voting fraud– at lest according to the State of Texas. All five of these prominent Texas leaders were hassled by the new Texas Voter ID Law this past November. It has been a concern for those opposed to the Voter ID Law that it will make it difficult for individuals to obtain appropriate identification, and thus poor, elderly, and minority voters will be disenfranchised because they lack appropriate identification. However, it seems that one distinct group that also may be affected are people whose photo ID’s don’t match the name that is recorded in the voter rolls. Of the five people listed above, the only individual who had trouble obtaining an ID was 90-year-old former Speaker Jim Wright. The other four were forced to sign an affidavit because their names on their IDs did not match exactly to their names on the poll books.   Only 0.2% of the voting population had to cast a provisional ballot presumably due to improper ID, while some precincts are estimating that as high as 40% of voters had to sign an affidavit for name inconsistencies.

Full Article: State of Texas v. Women: is Texas violating the 19th Amendment? : State of Elections.

Texas: State presents case in federal trial over voter ID law | American-Statesman

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.

Full Article: Texas presents case in federal trial over voter ID law | www.statesman.com.

Editorials: Sky-high stakes in Texas voter ID trial | Zachary Roth/MSNBC

For students at Prairie View A&M, a historically black university about an hour’s drive from Houston, the right to vote has never come easy. In the early 1970s—soon after 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds gained the franchise—the Waller County voting registrar began requiring that students answer questions about their employment status, property ownership, and other issues before they could be added to the rolls. He was stopped by a federal court, in a key ruling for student voting rights. A few years later, local officials tried to move school-board elections from April to August, making it harder for Prairie View students to vote—a scheme that was blocked by the Justice Department. Then in 2004, the local prosecutor sent a letter to election administrators saying Prairie View students weren’t automatically eligible to vote at their college address, and threatening the possibility of arrest, before backing down amid an outcry. That same year, the county tried to cut early voting hours on campus—again, it was stopped by the federal government. And in 2008, the county acknowledged in a settlement with the Bush Justice Department that it had rejected voter registration applications in violation of federal voting law, primarily affecting Prairie View students. 

Full Article: Sky-high stakes in Texas voter ID trial | MSNBC.