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Texas Voter ID Goes Into Effect, AG Cites Voting Rights Act Decision

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Effective immediately, Texans will have to show photo identification to vote.

DMN (“Texas voter ID law “will take effect immediately,” says Attorney General Greg Abbott“):

The implications of today’s landmark ruling could be swift and stunning.

With the Supreme Court suspending the mechanism that forced Texas to get a federal OK before it can implement any election law change, state Attorney General Greg Abbott asserts that nothing now can stop the state from activating its controversial voter ID law.

“With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” Abbott announced. “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”

Laughlin McDonald of the ACLU, on a call with reporters, conceded that Texas has “a very strong argument” that in light of today’s Supreme Court decision, it can implement the Voter ID law and other laws that previously required federal approval.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has announced that starting Thursday, “Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”

Starting Thursday, Texas driver license offices will begin issuing photo IDs to anyone who doesn’t already have one. Under the 2011 state law creating one of the nation’s most strict voter ID laws, the certificates are free and valid for six years. To qualify, an applicant must show U.S. citizenship and Texas residency. The required documents are listed here to verify U.S. citizenship and identity.

Voters only need that document if they lack a current Texas drivers license, personal ID card or concealed handgun license; U.S. passport or military ID or citizenship certificate with photo.

This is essentially the law in Virginia, where I live, a state that was also subject to preclearance under the invalidated section of the Voting Rights Act. So, presumably, the Virginia law survived preclearance.

As to the “nothing can stop us” bit, it’s not true. Just as with any other law, it can be challenged in court. But, while evidence that the sort of voting fraud that would be solved by requiring photo ID exists at any significant level is nonexistent, the courts have generally upheld photo ID requirements for voting so long as the process for obtaining said ID isn’t overly burdensome. By making them free and long lasting, Texas’ law likely survives that scrutiny. There is some question as to whether states can require birth certificates, since obtaining them typically comes with a fee. Amusingly, Texas allows all manner of documentation of Citizenship or Lawful Presence:

   U.S. Citizens

Individuals who are U.S. citizens can present one of the following documents for verification through DHS. (Documents may be expired unless otherwise noted.)

  • U.S. passport book or card
  • Birth certificate issued by a U.S. state, U.S. territory or District of Columbia
  • For U.S. citizens born abroad—Certificate of Report of Birth (DS-1350 or FS-545) or Consular Report of Birth (FS-240) issued by the U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization (N-560, N-561, N-645, N-550, N-55G, N-570 or N-578)
  • U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197 or I-179)
   U.S. Nationals, Lawful Permanent Residents, Refugees and Asylees

Individuals who are U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, refugees or asylees can present one of the following documents for verification through DHS. (Documents may be expired unless otherwise noted.)

  • U.S. passport that reads, “THE BEARER IS A UNITED STATES NATIONAL AND NOT A UNITED STATES CITIZEN” on the last page
  • Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551)
  • Foreign passport with attached temporary I-551 (immigrant visa endorsed with ADIT stamp)
  • Passport or I-94 stamped “Approved I-551″
  • Passport or I-94 stamped “Processed for I-551″
  • Permit to Reenter the United States (Form I-327)
  • I-94 or passport with annotation “Section 207″ or “refugee”
  • Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)
  • I-688B coded 274a.12(a)(3)
  • I-766 with category A3 or A03
  • I-94 or passport with annotation “Section 208″ or “asylee”
  • I-688B coded 274a.12(a)(5)
  • I-766 with category A5 or A05
  • Refugee Travel Letter with photo, stamped by Customs and Border Protection
   Temporary Visitors

A temporary visitor is anyone who is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, refugee or asylee.

A temporary visitor who wants to apply for a limited term driver license or ID card must provide one of the following documents for verification through DHS. (Documents may be expired unless otherwise noted.)

  • A document (or combination of documents) issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that shows lawful temporary admission to the U.S.

Limited term licenses and ID cards issued to temporary visitors expire when the person’s period of lawful presence expires.

Presumably, “lawful presence” is inadequate to meet the voting threshold.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Effective immediately, Texans will have to show photo identification to vote. the great dictatorship state of Texas has taken the first of many steps to suppress minority voting.

    FTFY.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From the AP (again via TPM):

    Across the South, Republicans are working to take advantage of a new political landscape after a divided U.S. Supreme Court freed all or part of 15 states, many of them in the old Confederacy, from having to ask Washington’s permission before changing election procedures in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination.

    Gee, if section 4 was so unnecessary, what were they waiting for? And I wonder, whatever do they mean when they say, “Republicans are working to take advantage of a new political landscape”?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  3. Scott F. says:

    “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”

    This will be a bigger deal than the Voter ID law in Texas, I think. Gerrymandering will prove more effective for disenfranchisement anyhow. It’s got a better track record nationally it appears.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  4. Scott says:

    Maybe not so fast:

    From today’s San Antonio Express-News:

    “Legal experts questioned Abbott’s move.

    Lyle Denniston, a legal scholar who has covered the Supreme Court for 55 years, said the Texas voter ID law can’t take effect immediately because a federal court already barred the state from enforcing it last year.

    That case, Denniston said, wasn’t immediately settled Tuesday, because the court struck down a section of the law unrelated to the Texas challenge. He called the attorney general “legally ignorant” for thinking he could advance the laws without the court’s ruling.”

    We’ll see how it plays out.

    Of course getting an ID is not necessarity the easiest thing here in San Antonio. There are 4 DPS offices serving a 1.7M population.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Roberts is getting savaged with a broom handle over at Lawyers Guns and Money.

    Scott Lemieux:“To reiterate what I said in my piece, the case for the constitutionality of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is both extremely powerful and uncomplicated. Section 2 of the 15th Amendment clearly and unambiguously gives Congress the authority to enforce the constitutional prohibition on racial discrimination in voting “by appropriate legislation.” In this context, “appropriate” In simply requires there to be a rational relationship between the legislation and the objective. In the legal sense of “rational,” Section 4 qualifies easily.”

    “Given the obvious basis for the act’s constitutionality, what part of the Constitution does Section 4 violate? Alas, as Paul implies even after reading Roberts’s opinion one is no closer to the answer. There’s some handwaving to obviously irrelevant provisions of the Constitution (the 10th Amendment merely says that powers not granted to the federal government are retained by the states; since the power to enforce the 15th Amendment was granted to the federal government, it’s irrelevant to this case, and indeed in general is just a “truism” that does no independent work to resolve any particular case.)”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Link correction: Scott Lemieux:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Scott says:

    If I were the Democrats, I would be pushing a Voting Rights constitutional amendment. “The right to vote in a federal, state, or local elections by a United State citizen over the age of 18 shall not be abridges”. Something simple to that effect. Let the right argue against that and see how that goes over with the public.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott:

    If I were the Democrats, I would be pushing a Voting Rights constitutional amendment.

    I have been reading of such for a few weeks to a month now. I fully expect calls for said amendment to get louder in the wake of this monstrosity.

    My only question is, can Republicans come out against such an amendment in a way that doesn’t cost them votes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  9. Caj says:

    Good old Texas couldn’t wait could they? The decision by SCOTUS was a disgrace and a poke in the eye to all those who marched, were beaten and killed to gain voting rights for minorities! I just hope to God people all over the country rise up over this abomination of so called justice!
    Congress must act on this issue they say! Oh please! Congress with their pitiful approval rating and their desire to suppress the votes as they tried in 2102. Oh yeah, they will be making sure ALL voters are treated fairly in the future. Clarence Thomas who has a tea party wife and others are pure activist judges nothing more, nothing less. Citizens United was granted to help Republicans. This latest fiasco was done for the exact same reason. Republicans can’t win any election on their merit, they have and will lie, cheat or steal to win! Shameful day for the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. JKB says:

    Democrats upset that the Supreme Court recognizes that the South isn’t the same as it was when Democrats ran it as a segregated, racially discriminatory fiefdom.

    So Texas is moving to implement voter-id like many other states? Is there some unique feature of the Texas law that makes it so different from Virginia’s, Tennessee’s, South Carolina’s, Mississippi’s, Georgia’s, Arizona’s, Pennsylvania’s, Arkansas’, Louisiana’s, Oklahoma’s. Florida’s, Michigan’s, Wisconsin’s, Idaho’s, South Dakota’s, Indiana’s, Kansas’, Hawaii’s voter photo-id laws?

    So what makes Texas’ law so much more onerous than those 18 states?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  11. Rob in CT says:

    I happen to agree with that particular point, JKB. I don’t know that the Texas law is any worse than voter ID laws in other states (though I haven’t read up on each law to compare & contrast).

    My overall beef with voter ID laws isn’t even the concept of showing ID – it’s the obvious fact that it’s more onerous for poor people and/or folks who don’t speak English well (folks who just happen to mostly vote D). The solution to this problem, in my perfect world, is to have the ID requirements but make it really easy and free to obtain said ID (including making getting the backup documents required to obtain ID easy & free to obtain*). Second-best would be for the Democractic party to pour resources into helping folks get ID. I’d rather that they spending some more money on another beltway insider election consultant or what have you.

    The Dems should push for my 1st choice while enacting my 2nd. We’ll see if they’re actually up to the task, or if instead they prefer to just whine.

    * In fact, I for one am fine with the idea of a national ID card. How about adding a picture to our social security cards?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  12. JKB says:

    @Caj: Good old Texas couldn’t wait could they?

    Actually, they did wait. The further proceedings on Texas’ voter photo id law was suspended pending the outcome of the cases before the SCOTUS. That determination has occurred.

    A federal court deferred further proceedings in a lawsuit filed by Texas over the state’s voter identification law until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether part of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional.
    A three-judge panel in Washington said today that “in the interest of efficiency and judicial economy” it will wait for the Supreme Court to review a provision of the 1965 law requiring all or part of 16 mostly Southern states to get federal approval before changing their voting rules. The Texas suit challenges the same provision.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  13. Andre Kenji says:

    @Scott:

    If I were the Democrats, I would be pushing a Voting Rights constitutional amendment. “The right to vote in a federal, state, or local elections by a United State citizen over the age of 18 shall not be abridges”.

    The problem is that there is a little problem here called “vote by felons”. That´s enough to flip elections in many states, it´s something a little bizarre to me(And not only because I come from a country where the Legal system heavily influenced by Catholicism) and it would be a contentious issue preciselly of that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  14. legion says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    My only question is, can Republicans come out against such an amendment in a way that doesn’t cost them votes?

    Are you kidding? The only people left who reliably vote Republican are exactly the ones who _want_ laws like this to keep them dark-skinned fellers from getting all uppity & voting on things. It might just energize turnout for the Good Guys, but I don’t see it _reducing_ the number of votes the GOP gets…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. Electroman says:

    @Andre Kenji: Most US felons are, in fact, allowed to vote – and always have been. What was the problem again?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. rudderpedals says:

    @Electroman: More than one state disenfranchises convicted felons. This is quite common in the South.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. Electroman says:

    @rudderpedals: Yes, there are indeed several. Nevertheless, my comment still stands. To look at it another way, it’s possible to pass an amendment without the consent of all the states. I don’t think such an amendment has the proverbial snowball’s chance, but not for that reason.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. stonetools says:

    So the same day Justice Roberts decreed that racial discrimination has abated in those pre-clearance states such that they no longer need special attention from the federal government in ensuring voting rights, two pre-clearance states immediately unveil anti-voting rights legislative packages.

    OOPS.

    I wonder here ,Are Roberts and the conservative majority simply stupid, or are they just enablers of racism?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. James Joyner says:

    @stonetools: It’s rather silly to pretend that racism is the motivation here. Lots of states, including many outside the preclearance structure, have enacted voter ID requirements. First, they appeal to a common sense notion that it’s reasonable to use the same level of security of our electoral system as we apply to the sales of movie tickets and cigarettes. Second, there’s a clear partisan motivation to excluding as many marginalized members of society as possible from the process. In other words, it’s cynicism, not racism, at work here.

    But, again, Virginia does the same thing and was subject to preclearance. I’ve been required to show ID every time I’ve voted in recent years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  20. stonetools says:

    @JKB:

    It’s not about “just” voter ID, although that’s onerous enough. Its about a package of laws, the result of which is to make it difficult for the poor, minorities and the young to vote.
    The example here of a voter suppression package is North Carolina.

    He predicted an omnibus voting bill would surface in the Senate next week that could go beyond voter ID to include issues such as reducing early voting, eliminating Sunday voting and barring same-day voter registration.

    One of the triumphs of right wing propaganda is to talk only about voter ID laws as something separate from legislation that includes an array of provisions burdening the right to vote.
    As usual, liberals allow right wingers to dictate framing by talking about voter ID alone. Its more than that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. James Joyner says:

    @stonetools: But “reducing early voting, eliminating Sunday voting and barring same-day voter registration” are all perfectly legal moves so long as they’re enacted across the board. Many states require registration 30 or more days out. Until fairly recently, I’d never even heard of early voting aside from abseentee voting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. stonetools says:

    @James Joyner:

    See my post just above. Its more than voter ID. “Voter ID’ Laws are generally offered as part of a legislative package that makes it more difficult for poor, minorities and the young to vote.
    The package approach is similar what happened under Jim Crow as well. It wasn’t just the poll tax. It was also literacy tests( ” How many bubbles are there in a bar of soap”), residency requirements , grandfather clauses, and other provisions, administered in a racist way.
    Currently, as to whether its racism or cynicism , I think the motivation is unimportant. What’s important is that it has a disparate impact on minorities. Why somebody burdened my right to vote is less important than that my right to vote is burdened, and to a greater extent than it would if I am white, old, or well off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  23. stonetools says:

    @James Joyner:

    But “reducing early voting, eliminating Sunday voting and barring same-day voter registration” are all perfectly legal moves so long as they’re enacted across the board

    Sure, they’re legal moves.(So were poll taxes, in their day). But legal moves with what end in mind? Sometimes, in Pennsylvania, the mask slips and the sponsors of the bills say bluntly that it’s to reduce minority turnout. Not all legislators are that honest, unfortunately. But I think we all know why North Carolina suddenly decided why early voting , Sunday voting, and same day registration are bad and photo ID requirements are suddenly necessary in a way they weren’t a decade ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  24. Andre Kenji says:

    @Electroman:

    Most US felons are, in fact, allowed to vote – and always have been. What was the problem again?

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/24/us-usa-campaign-felons-idUSBRE89N1C620121024

    For obviously reasons, I don´t see Republican Controlled legislatures passing a amendment like that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    Second, there’s a clear partisan motivation to excluding as many marginalized members of society as possible from the process. In other words, it’s cynicism, not racism, at work here.

    You say tomato, I say tomahto…. James, just exactly why are these things happening at this point in time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think there’s a genuine fear out there that widespread voter fraud, engineered by urban machines and various far left activist groups, exist. It’s further stoked by the false notion that Motor Voter means that illegal aliens with drivers’ licenses are eligible to vote. I think even many politicians fighting for these strictures actually believe these things to be real. Others are more cynically exploiting the fact that the measures make it harder for the underclass to vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @James Joyner: James, it isn’t that they actually believe these things to be real that’s the problem. It’s that they refuse to change their minds even when confronted with abundant empirical evidence that such hanky-panky is virtually nonexistent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: ” I think there’s a genuine fear out there that widespread voter fraud, engineered by urban machines and various far left activist groups, exist. ”

    It’s a fear quite deliberately and fraudulently whipped up by right-wing politicians and pundits, fraud which they can’t even come up with evidence for, full stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “I think there’s a genuine fear out there that widespread voter fraud, engineered by urban machines and various far left activist groups, exist.”

    So now we should legislate based upon fears which have no basis in fact. Fascinating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0