With three weeks left before Election Day, officials and voting rights advocates in Texas are still wrangling in court over the state’s controversial and restrictive new voting law. Any day now, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to say whether the Texas voter ID law should be implemented on Election Day or not. The Supreme Court could step in as well. Should the appeals court — and possibly the Supreme Court — side with the law’s supporters, the law will be reinstated before the midterms, keeping more than 608,000 registered voters that don’t have the required ID from voting. If the courts side with opponents of the voter ID law and put it on hold for the time being, the law’s supporters argue it would inject “doubt where for 15 months, and three statewide elections, there had been certainty.” The Texas case is just one of several ongoing disputes over controversial voting laws that could have an impact at polling places on Nov. 4.
In seven states, including Texas, there are pending lawsuits challenging new voting regulations — in three of them, the Supreme Court has already intervened to a certain degree. Not counting Texas, there are as many as 14 states with new voting restrictions this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
“I expect we’re going to see some difficulties [on Election Day] as a result of those changes,” Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, told CBS News.
The Brennan Center and other voting rights groups have largely opposed these changes due to evidence that they have a detrimental impact on the electorate. For instance, rolling back same-day voter registration could decrease Election Day turnout. Additionally, there’s evidence that voter ID laws reduce turnout, particularly among minorities and young voters. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reported last week that new voter ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee reduced turnout by an estimated 1.9 to 3.2 percent, and that young people and African-American voters were disproportionately affected.