Supreme Court rejects Texas voter ID appeal

The Supreme Court said Monday it will not hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling striking down a Texas law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, effectively killing one of the strictest such laws in the nation.

The law, passed in 2011, required voters to show one of seven acceptable forms of photo identification at the polls, including a driver’s license, a passport, a permit to carry a concealed handgun or an election identification certificate. Voters could only obtain an election identification certificate, a form of identification provided to those who don't have a license, if they provided a copy of their birth certificate.

Any voter without an identification would have been allowed to cast a provisional ballot, which would have counted only if they showed an identification at a county office within six days after an election.

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“The Supreme Court’s decision not to accept the case means that the lower court’s decision striking down the ID law stands,” said Marc Elias, a Democratic attorney who has sued multiple states over Republican-led election reform measures. “It may not be the final word in the case, but for the time being at least, it is a victory for voters in Texas.”

Last July, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld lower court rulings that found the law violated the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against Hispanic and African-American voters. Experts said during arguments before lower courts that up to 600,000 Texas voters did not have one of the acceptable forms of identification.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) appealed the 5th Circuit decision, an appeal the Supreme Court turned down on Monday.

The 5th Circuit decision remanded the case back to a federal district court in Texas, where a new hearing will be held next month.

The Texas law would have made it the eighth state to implement a “strict” photo ID law by requiring voters without proper identification to cast a provisional ballot. Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin have strict laws on the books.