Court opens trial on Texas voter ID law

July 10, 2012 at 1:29 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- Lawyers for the state of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice debated Monday whether a Texas voter ID law discriminates against minorities.

A federal appeals panel began a trial about Senate Bill 14, which requires voters to show an approved form of photo identification, Politico reported. The court is expected to hear the case through the end of the week.

"The facts will convincingly demonstrate the discriminatory purpose and effect of Senate Bill 14," Elizabeth Westfall of the Justice Department told the three judges in her opening statement.

"At least 1.4 million registered voters in Texas lack any form of state-issued ID accepted under SB 14, and those voters are disproportionately Hispanic and black," Westfall said.

A lawyer for Texas said the Justice Department will not be able to prove the law -- signed in May 2011 by Republican Gov. Rick Perry -- discriminates against blacks and Hispanics.

Ezra Rosenberg, arguing for civil rights advocates who intervened in the case, said the voter fraud Texas officials allege is non-existent and SB 14 is "a solution in search of a problem."

Brian Ingram, director of elections for the Texas secretary of state, testified there is evidence of fraud. He said in some counties more people are registered to vote than there are in the population of eligible voters, and 239 people are believed to have voted in a May primary using the names of dead voters.

The Justice Department has refused to certify the new law, a step required by the Voting Rights Act when Texas changes election procedures.

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