[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas [official website] on Tuesday ruled [order, PDF] in favor of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] in a case asserting that the state of Texas failed to soften its voter identification law as ordered [TPM report]. After the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] in July ruled [opinion, PDF] that Texas’ voter ID law was too stringent, the state and the DOJ reached an agreement to soften the law. Now, voters lacking the required ID may sign an affidavit promising that they had a “reasonable impediment” to bringing it, on the condition that they provide another form of ID. Contradicting this agreement, the state was telling voters that they could use the affidavit alternative only if they “have not obtained” and “cannot obtain” a required ID, language that Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled was more harsh than the reasonable impediment language agreed upon. To remedy the situation Ramos ordered the state to re-issue all of its pre-election brochures and propaganda to incorporate the agreed-upon language.
The right to vote has become especially contentious as the presidential election approaches. Earlier this month the Missouri legislature overrode [JURIST report] vetoes by Governor Jay Nixon to approve two bills, one requiring voter ID and the other removing the need to renew permits in order to carry a concealed weapon. Last month an Oklahoma court upheld [JURIST report] a controversial voter ID law allowing the law to be in place while early voting commenced for a primary run-off. In July voter restrictions were overturned in North Carolina, Kansas and Wisconsin [JURIST reports].