Four days of testimony ended Thursday in a federal trial on the legality of a new Texas voter ID law that was rejected by the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act. The case is being watched closely by other states that have recently passed restrictive voter laws. “It’s over. The trial has ended. It’s a tough set of issues, it’s a tough case,” said U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, one of three federal judges hearing the case. Closing arguments are scheduled today, and a decision by the judges on the lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott could come this month. At issue is a voter ID law that the government and experts have said will disproportionately affect more than 1 million minorities in Texas. Attorneys for the state reject the claim and argue that the law is designed to combat voter fraud.
… Stephen Ansolabehere, a Justice Department witness, testified Thursday that the new ID law would disproportionately impact black and Hispanic voters casting ballots at precinct polling places — the basis of the justice department’s pre-clearance denial of the law — but admitted that his conclusion could be flawed. Ansolabehere, a Harvard University professor, said his analysis of voter registration rolls, driver’s license and concealed weapons permit records used to draw his conclusions were not foolproof.
The courtroom erupted in laughter several times as lawyers for Texas said his list of those potentially affected by the law was a gross overestimation and showed that former President George W. Bush, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Sen. Phil Gramm were on a list of people that did not have Texas IDs that exactly matched the voting rolls. “I think it’s likely Sen. Hutchison has a photo ID,” Ansolabehere admitted. He later explained that he was not given federal or military data bases to cross check against the Texas voting registration list of 13 million names.