The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] agreed [order, PDF] Wednesday to reconsider Texas’ voter identification law before the entire court. A three-judge panel had ruled in August that the law, which requires 14.6 million registered voters to show photo ID at the polls to prevent voter fraud, violates [JURIST report] section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Opponents had claimed that the law is discriminatory and intended to prevent poor and minority voters from being heard. The state of Texas requested an en banc rehearing, and the appeals court agreed. The court has yet to announce the date for oral arguments.
Voting rights have been a contentious issue in the US recently. In 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 the US Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] in Frank v. Walker, allowing Wisconsin’s voter ID law to stand. Wisconsin’s Act 23, which requires residents to present photo ID to vote, was struck down by a federal district court, but reinstated [JURIST reports] by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Also 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.