There are so many things wrong with voter-ID laws — 143 pages’ worth, you might say — that it can be hard to decide where to begin. Still it’s worth trying once again, now that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has, predictably, reversed a federal judge’s takedown of Texas’s strict voter-ID law and allowed it to be enforced for the upcoming election. The law, SB 14, requires prospective voters to show up to the polls with a government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license or passport. On Oct. 9, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued a no-holds-barred ruling that SB 14 violates the Equal Protection Clause, the Voting Rights Act, and the 24th Amendment, which prohibits poll taxes. Judge Ramos found that more than 600,000 Texans, or about 4.5 percent of all registered voters, did not have the required ID; that a disproportionate number of those were poorer and minority voters, who lean Democratic; and that the law itself — passed by a Republican-dominated legislature, as all voter ID laws have been — was intended to make it harder if not impossible for these people to participate in elections.
Texas appealed, and on Tuesday afternoon the Fifth Circuit stayedthe district court’s ruling, citing a 2006 Supreme Court case that warned against changing rules very close to an election. That case,Purcell v. Gonzalez, has been the apparent rationale for the justices’ recent decisions halting or permitting voter ID and other voting restrictions out of Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina. The challengers of the Texas law have appealed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling to the Supreme Court, which will likely uphold it under Purcell.
(Election-law expert Rick Hasen, among several others, has arguedthat all Purcell claims may not be created equal. That is, “there is less of a problem of turning OFF a voter ID law than turning it ON.”)
However the justices rule, it’s important to remember that nothing about voter ID is as it seems.
Full Article: Voter ID: Confusion on Top of Chaos – NYTimes.com.