WHAT IT IS
- In 2011, Texas passed what is widely regarded as one of the stricter voter ID laws in the country.
- The law required a “strict photo ID” at the ballots when voting.
- On February 27, 2017, the Justice Department reversed its position that the Texas voter-ID law was intended to discriminate against minorities.
- Civil rights groups will continue to contest the law in court but will no longer have the backup of the federal government.
- The law was previously found unconstitutional by a U.S. District Judge.
- The decision was held up by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, known as one of the most conservative in the country.
WHY IT MATTERS
Voter ID laws disproportionately affect the college students and young professionals. Increased needs for identification affect professionals who live in a city and have either expired drivers licenses or no drivers license at all. And because of young people’s disproportionate lack of voter turnout, it is possible that this ruling will provide more barriers for young people to get to the polls.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- Texas lawmakers are now being given the chance to revise the law.
- Houston Republican state Senator Joan Huffman introduced a bill to revamp the law.
- Many similar voter ID laws make it harder to vote if you are a college student, such as the one recently passed by the state of Wisconsin.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
- This position by the Justice Department is the first official stance of the Justice Department under the Trump administration on the issue of voting rights.
- How do we balance the need for voting rights and fair elections?
- Is the law from Texas purposely designed to discriminate against certain groups?
- How will young people respond to a challenge on their ability to vote?