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.
The Supreme Court last year struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act that required mostly Southern states and other jurisdictions with histories of discrimination to seek federal approval for election law changes. Justice Department officials see the Texas and North Carolina challenges as their best chances to restore the requirement in certain circumstances under a rarely used provision of the Voting Rights Act.
If plaintiffs in Texas or North Carolina successfully revive oversight requirements, then other states might be reluctant to pass strict voting laws. Conversely, if the plaintiffs’ efforts fall flat, those states might be emboldened to pass hard-core voter ID laws like Texas’, Hasen said.
Attorney Chad Dunn — who is representing the lead plaintiffs in the Texas case: U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, and the League of United Latin American Citizens — agreed that the outcomes of the cases in Texas and North Carolina will define the scope of the Voting Rights Act nationwide. Dunn added that Texas should return to federal oversight, known as pre-clearance, to prevent discrimination at the polls. “It worked for us for three decades,” he said.
Full Article: What’s ahead in Texas voter ID battle | www.mystatesman.com.