Texas Voter ID Trial Gets Underway

At issue is whether the voter ID law passed by Texas lawmakers last year violates the rights of minority voters. The Justice Department put the brakes on implementation because Texas is among a group of so-called "Voting Rights" states. Those states are required to take extra measures to ensure voter's rights are protected. Other states that have passed similar laws are not among Southern states that fall under that requirement.

Bob Stein is a political scientist with Rice University.

"What I think the plaintiffs in the case have been able to show is that this isn't just an issue of voter ID like in Indiana but that the state is ill-equipped to provide voter identifications of the sort that they require, which are really drivers licenses,  in a manner that doesn't discriminate against these target populations."

A three-judge panel is hearing the case in the trial that's expected to last a week. Stein says the issue is turning out to be a motivator for both parties.

"It is a great rallying tool. I think it advantages the Democrats over the Republicans. Any time you tell an African-American, Hispanic or for that matter, younger voter you can vote because someone doesn't want you there, you motivate them to vote."

Republicans say most voters would like to see some sort of voter ID law, although Stein says studies have shown such a law would have virtually no impact on future elections.

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