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Voters ask Supreme Court to block Texas voter ID law

[JURIST] The League of United Latin American Citizens and Congressman Marc Veasy [official websites], along with other plaintiffs, filed an application [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday, asking the court to vacate a stay that allowed a Texas voter ID law to remain in place in 2014. According to the application, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit entered the stay only because the 2014 election was "extremely fast-approaching," and should not have remained in place beyond that election. The plaintiffs argue that the stay should be vacated as soon as possible because the state has to prepare for 2016 elections at least four months ahead of election day. The application states that the voter ID law has discriminatory effects on racial minorities, may violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and that the lower court held the law places an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. In 2014 the district court also found that the law was enacted with discriminatory purpose and achieves a discriminatory result. The law reduced the number of offices issuing appropriate ID's, and when it came to choosing what ID's could be used to vote, the legislature repeatedly made decisions that would disfavor minority voters. The district court found that the lawmakers rejected options that would have alleviated some of these effects. In October 2014, after the district court ruling, the appeals court issued the stay without making any decision on the effects of the law. The voter ID law has remained in effect since the stay.

Voting rights have been a contentious issue in the US recently. Earlier this month an Ohio judge granted an emergency order [JURIST report] allowing 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the November election to vote in the recent Ohio primary. Also this month the Fifth Circuit agreed to reconsider [JURIST report] Texas' voter ID law before the entire court. Last May the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a 2012 law requiring voters to be state residents, not just domiciled in the state. Last March Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration. In November 2014 a federal appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a Kansas rule that required prospective voters to show proof-of-citizenship documents before registering using a federal voter registration form.

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