The state has won the latest round in the years-long legal saga over the Texas voter ID law. This week, a three-judge panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled 2-1 in favor of reinstating the revised version of the voter ID law passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year. This after a federal judge struck down the law last month as intentionally discriminatory. The state's appeal of that ruling is still pending, but this week's vote allows the new law to remain in effect in the meantime, with the majority judges writing that Texas "is likely to succeed on the merits" of the case at trial.
For voters, the ruling means the same law that applied to last year's election will apply in 2017 and 2018 elections. "The ruling...basically put everything back in place exactly like it was last November, and that's not only for Harris County but for every county in the state," says Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart. "Bring a photo ID (to the polls). If you do not have a photo ID, you can fill out a reasonable declaration (form) that says you do not have one, so we'll accommodate every voter."
That "reasonable declaration" clause was part of the changes to the original 2011 law that were passed by this year's Legislature in Senate Bill 5. Those changes, which softened the original law, were ordered by a court last year and implemented in last year's elections. The state has long argued that having a voter ID law is a reasonable and constitutional means of ensuring the integrity of elections and preventing voter fraud.