Appeals Court Okays Texas Voter ID Law For Now

A New Orleans federal appeals court panel stayed a permanent injunction to throw out Texas’ controversial voter ID law in a 2-1 vote. The state’s voter ID law requires voters to present an approved photo ID card when voting.

A previous order by Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos is now in place, which permits those without an accepted photo ID to vote by signing a sworn declaration stating that there was a reasonable impediment that prevented them from obtaining an ID.

Texas may now use the revised voter ID measure, known as SB 5, in the upcoming November elections.

The revised law was designed to fix components of the 2011 voter ID law that were considered one of the strictest in the country. The original bill was challenged in court for years during the Obama administration.

The lone dissenter, Judge James Graves, wrote in a four-page opinion that the 5th Circuit should have stayed the entire law until a final ruling was issued.

Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod and Jerry Smith wrote in a six-page opinion, “A temporary stay here, while the court can consider arguments on the merits, will minimize confusion among both voters and trained election officials.”

The new law will make the “reasonable impediment” declaration permanent. Hefty penalties will be imposed on those who violate the law.

“We are pleased that the Fifth Circuit has stayed the injunction and allowed Texas to proceed with its duly enacted voter identification laws,” said Lauren Ehrsam, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice, in a written statement. “Preserving the integrity of the ballot is vital to our democracy, and the Fifth Circuit’s order allows Texas to continue to fulfill that duty as this case moves forward.”

The Department of Justice had initially fought against the law until President Trump, who has shown support for the law, took office.