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Court: Texas Can Enforce New Voter ID Law in November

A federal court ruled Tuesday that a weakened Texas voter identification policy used in the 2016 presidential contest can remain in place for upcoming November elections, the latest twist in a years-long court battle over the state's controversial voter ID laws.

By Allie Morris

A federal court ruled Tuesday that a weakened Texas voter identification policy used in the 2016 presidential contest can remain in place for upcoming November elections, the latest twist in a years-long court battle over the state's controversial voter ID laws.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals out of New Orleans also voted 2-1 to stay a lower court's ruling that blocks Texas from enforcing a revised voter ID law the Legislature passed this year.

Known as Senate Bill 5, the measure sought to resolve what the courts have called discriminatory aspects of Senate Bill 14, which passed in 2011 and created one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation.

The stay will not have an immediate effect because SB 5 is not slated to take effect until Jan. 1. The legal battle is expected to continue up until that deadline.

"A temporary stay here, while the court can consider argument on the merits, will minimize confusion among both voters and trained election officials," Judges Jerry Smith and Jennifer Elrod wrote in an order Tuesday. Judge James Graves Jr. dissented.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi struck down SB 5, ruling that it still discriminated against black and Latino voters.

Under the current state elections policy, reached as part of a deal last year between plaintiffs and the state, people can still vote even if they don't have one of seven accepted forms of identification. While SB 5 is modeled after that agreement, it calls stiffer penalties for lying on an affidavit, among other differences.

(c)2017 the San Antonio Express-News

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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