The Texas House of Representatives today authorized a bill aimed at softening voter identification requirements in that southern state, a measure that has been labeled by its opponents as “insufficient” and “discriminatory.”
The legislation, which must be approved by the Senate before reaching the governor’s office, seeks to modify state voter identification rules in an effort to comply with a court decision that found that current law discriminates against Latino and African-American voters .
With 95 votes in favor (all Republicans) and 54 against (all Democrats), the proposal was approved after a debate of more than six hours in which the Democrats argued that the legislation “would not go far enough” to extend the Access to voters’ voters and warned it contains provisions that could deter some Texans from voting.
SB5, as this bill is known, would add options for Texas voters to ensure that they can not “reasonably” obtain one of the seven forms of identification required at the polls.
More than 16,400 Texas voters signed affidavits of “reasonable impediment” during the 2016 general election, according to a document count provided by the Texas Secretary of State’s office, which regulates electoral processes.
The law would also involve criminal penalties for those who falsely claim they need to file a secondary document and would require the Texas Secretary of State to create a mobile program to issue voter identification certificates.
However, Democratic lawmakers and organizations that fight for the rights of Hispanic voters showed their disagreement with legislation.
“This law does not meet the requirements that the federal court issued against the Texas 2011 ballot law,” Efe, the Texas regional director of Mi Familia Vota, Carlos Duarte, told EFE that this law will discriminate against several groups , Including students, who will not be able to use their university credentials to vote.
In the same vein, Celina Moreno, a lawyer with the Mexican Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), said that Texas is passing a bill that “probably” violates federal law.
“There is no reason to think that a court will not intervene again to protect the right to vote of minorities,” the lawyer told Efe.
Texas law, in force since 2011, forces voters to show a photo ID card to exercise their right to vote, even though there is no national identity card in the United States and citizens are not required to have that card. ID.
Proponents of the law argue that it avoids fraud, but its opponents claim that it actually seeks to prevent the vote of the poor and minorities, since those sectors have lower driving licenses due to the impossibility, for example, of Allow the payment of a vehicle.
The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July last year that Texas lawmakers discriminated against minority groups, who were less likely to possess one of the acceptable identification documents, which included the state driver’s license, Military identification or the certificate of citizenship, among others.
In addition, a federal judge in the Corpus Christi-based South Texas District Court ruled in April that this controversial vote-restricting act was “intentionally” enacted to discriminate against Latino and African-American voters in order to cushion their growing electoral power .
In Texas, the second-largest Hispanic state, 4.2 million Latinos are eligible to vote, according to 2010 census data.