Now only preclearance between Texas and photo ID

Justin again.  The Texas photo ID bill was signed today, just before the Memorial Day weekend.  There’s a short list of acceptable ID, with few exceptions, and all must be current: driver’s license/state ID, military ID, citizenship certificate, passport, concealed handgun license.

By my count, this makes Texas the fifth state to absolutely require specific photo ID in order to vote a valid ballot at the polls (joining Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, and — also this week — Wisconsin; Tennessee would be the sixth if its new legislation is signed).   Several other states prefer photo ID, like my mother prefers me to call on Mother’s Day, but I’m not disowned if I don’t call, and voters aren’t absolutely locked out if they don’t have photo ID.  Even the new South Carolina law — which must still be precleared — lets voters submit an affidavit in lieu of a photo ID if they have a “reasonable impediment” to getting ID.

Gov. Perry signed the Texas law three days after Professors Sanchez, Nuño, and Barreto released the results of a national study on photo ID based on 2008 registered voters.  The study shows a substantial disparity based on race and ethnicity for voters with photo ID similar to the IDs required under the Texas law.  Since the Voting Rights Act puts the burden on Texas to show that its new law does not diminish the ability of citizens to elect candidates of choice on account of race or language minority status, I’ll be very interested to see the statistics Texas uses to prove that it hasn’t taken a step backward.

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