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Federal Appeals Court Examines Texas Voter ID Law

A federal appeals court heard arguments Tuesday morning on the Texas voter identification law, which the Justice Department argues is a means of suppressing minority voting.

Texas officials are appealing a federal judge’s ruling that the state’s voter ID law is unconstitutional. They argue that the law doesn’t cause a burden on minorities. The law requires voters to provide one of seven kinds of photo identification to cast a ballot. 

Political Science Professor Mark Jones with Rice University says this issue is more important from a symbolic, rather than from a practical perspective. 

“The debate over voter ID legislation boils down to different views about what should (be) prioritized — whether we should make sure that people can vote as easily as possible, or do we really focus in on ensuring that there is absolutely no voter impersonation.” 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the state has successfully held three statewide elections and numerous local and special elections with the voter ID law in place. He says no disenfranchisement has taken place, and attempts to undermine the law are motivated by political opposition.

The three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is expected to take several weeks to issue a decision.

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