Appeals Court Says Yes to Texas Voter Law

Florida polling place

SB5 Ruling Is Reversed
Texas’ latest voter identification law, SB5, has been reinstated and will be put into effect next year. The ruling comes from Jerry Smith and Jennifer Elrod, who are known for their conservative rulings. The law was passed by the Texas Legislature earlier in the year after SB14, one of the strictest voter identification laws in the country was ruled discriminatory against people of color (who are reportedly 195% and 305% more likely to lack voter identification). SB5 was barred from implementation last month by U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who ruled that the bill did not fix the discriminatory nature of SB14.

What SB5 Means
Under SB5 those without the required government-issued identification would be allowed to sign an affidavit stating that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining identification. Upon signing the affidavit voters would be required to present one of a variety of alternative documents, including a birth certificate, utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, or another official document that provides the voter’s name and address. Opponents of SB5 say that requiring voters to sign an affidavit is effectively voter intimidation, as a false statement on an affidavit could result in a perjury conviction.

Proponents of the measure argue that the law is needed to “avoid confusion among voters and election officials.” What seems to be confusing, however, is the law itself, as well as the process of obtaining government-issued identification in the first place. ThinkProgress reports that those seeking proper identification often face bureaucratic and monetary challenges that prevent them from obtaining the proper identification required to vote.