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DOJ Claims Texas is Violating Voter ID Court Order

There's a hearing today in federal court over U.S. Department of Justice claims that Texas officials aren't properly educating voters about changes in the state’s Voter ID law. (popov/iStockphoto)
There's a hearing today in federal court over U.S. Department of Justice claims that Texas officials aren't properly educating voters about changes in the state’s Voter ID law. (popov/iStockphoto)
September 19, 2016

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Texas elections officials are back in federal court today over accusations that they have failed to comply with a court order to conduct a voter ID education program.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint that Texas was misleading voters and poll workers about acceptable voting procedures for the Nov. 8 general election. Gabriel Gutierrez, who heads the group Common Cause Texas, said state officials have been providing less-than-accurate information about what types of ID can be presented at the polls.

"The Secretary of State's voter-education campaign just didn't seem to be geared toward educating voters as much as it could be," he said. "Some of the appearances that the Secretary of State was making on campuses is a lot more talking about politics, as opposed to doing what it was intended to do, which is just talk about voter ID."

The Justice Department has said Texas is violating a court order that requires the state to accept more types of identification. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that the 2011 voter ID law discriminated against minority voters. Part of that order requires the state to spend $2.5 million informing voters of the changes.

The state planned to accept only five forms of photo ID, but the court ruling requires the state to accept other IDs - such as a voter registration card, utility bill or bank statement - after the voter signs the proper form. Gutierrez said the Justice Department also has claimed that some officials may have been trying to intimidate voters.

"The Harris County Clerk was telling people that if there were any people who signed that reasonable impediment form who it turned out later that they did have IDs, that she was going to prosecute them," he said, "which seems counter to what the court was trying to achieve with the settlement."

The hearing is set for this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said that after the election, he plans to appeal the 5th Circuit Court's voter ID ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The complaint is online at courthousenews.com.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - TX