Appeals court tackles Texas Voter ID law

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A controversial law could prevent more than half a million Texans from voting. The 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals will hear arguments on Tuesday concerning the Texas voter ID law.

This law mandates voters present a state issued photo ID; whether it is a driver’s license or a concealed handgun license. It was passed by lawmakers in 2011 who said they wanted to stop voter fraud, which critics say is something that doesn’t happen.

Two courts have already ruled this law violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against minority voters. Critics of the law say an estimated 600,000 Hispanics and African American voters do not have the necessary ID to vote. This is because while the ID is free, they have a hard time accessing the necessary documents in order to obtain the ID; like purchasing a birth certificate for $30 to $40.

“If the 5th Circuit rules and the Supreme Court is fine with it and doesn’t need to review it you could see this in play by November 2016 hopefully it’s decided very soon this law has been in the court system for five years,” said Phillip Martin, Executive Director of Progress Texas.

In August, a three judge panel with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law discriminates against voters. However, the state appealed that ruling, saying they wanted the full 15 judges on the court to hear the case, which begins on Tuesday.

No ruling is expected from the appeals court. If they rule against the law it will likely go to the Supreme Court who may not hear the case until January when they have all of the judges in place. This means the law is still up in the air on whether it will be in effect come November for the Presidential election.

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