Lone Star watch by Ed Sterling
TEN STATES and a slew of Republican lawmakers put their weight solidly behind Texas last week, underpinning its bid to keep its 2011 voter identification legislation intact.
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said a coalition of states and members of the US congress had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the federal supreme court in support of the state law, which passed in 2011 as senate bill 14.
They were writing in support of a September 23 petition Paxton field on behalf of the state, asking the US supreme court to reinstate the Texas voter ID law, which was relaxed in the summer by a federal district court in time for yesterday, Tuesday’s, general election.
The coalition supporting Texas includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.
The states’ brief concludes: “There is no reason to expect that Texas’s voter ID law will somehow cause substantial harm to voter participation when nothing of the sort has happened in 10 years of voter ID in Indiana.”
A like-minded amicus brief was submitted to the high court by federal lawmakers including three US senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas and David Vitter of Louisiana.
Randy Weber was joined by fellow Texas US representatives John Culberson, Blake Farenthold, Joe Barton, Kevin Brady, Bill Flores, Louie Gohmert, Kay Granger, Michael Burgess, John Carter, Michael Conaway, Jeb Hensarling, Will Hurd, Ted Poe, Sam Johnson, John Ratcliffe, Kenny Marchant, Pete Sessions, Michael McCaul, Lamar Smith, Randy Neugebauer, Mac Thornberry, Pete Olson, Brian Babin and Roger Williams.
Also signing the amicus brief were US representatives John Fleming, Garrett Graves and Charles Boustany of Louisiana and Steven Palazzo of Mississippi.
Like its Indiana counterpart, the Texas law requires a citizen to present one of several forms of photo identification in addition to a voter-registration certificate before casting a ballot in person.
The US court of appeals for the fifth circuit, which sits in New Orleans, found that the law, while not discriminatory in intent, is discriminatory in effect.
Announcing the filing of the amicus briefs, Paxton alleged the existence of a nationwide voter-fraud problem and said: “Our democracy does not work unless voters have confidence that election results are not skewed by fraud.”
Academic studies undertaken in recent years have shown that there is almost no evidence of individual voter fraud, with one calculating that, during a period of 10 years, only 31 of more than a billion general-election ballots had been shown to be fraudulent.
Paxton’s critics, on the other hand, contend that gerrymandering and shortened polling-station hours are among the ruses employed by Republican-controlled states to prevent large-scale voting by minority sections of the population.