A challenge to Texas’s strict voter ID law that prevented thousands of eligible voters from fully participating in the democratic process.
On May 27, 2011, the Texas legislature signed into law SB 14 which was the strictest voter ID law in the nation. SB 14 required voters to display one of the very limited qualified photo ID if a person wanted to vote. Texas passed this voter ID law in an effort to prevent voter fraud from occurring during elections. The requirements for acceptable IDs included:
- A personal ID card issued by the Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- A license for a concealed handgun issued by DPS
- A driver’s license issued by DPS
- United States military ID card that includes the person’s photograph
- United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
- United States passport
- An Election Identification Certificate (EIC) issued by DPS, once you have proven your identity
In enacting this voter ID law, it prevented eligible voters from exercising their right to vote and had discriminatory effects. It was up to the poll workers to decide whether or not the voter’s registered name on their photo identification were the same or “substantially different.” Consequently, SB 14 disproportionately affected African American registered voters and Hispanic registered voters in comparison to Anglos in Texas. Furthermore, SB 14 personally, politically, and orgiationally impacted the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs were hesitant to go out to vote for the fear that poll workers would not let them vote then they would have gone out of their way for nothing or that their vote would be done in an unequal manner. Plaintiffs were also affected by SB 14 because it would require them to spend additional time in their political campaigns to educate people on SB 14. Last, plaintiffs had to divert resources from their core mission to respond to the negative effects SB 14 had on the people they serve. AFter all the evidence of the case, on September 22, 2014, the COurt concurred that SB 14 was an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. Additionally, the Court deemed that SB 14 had an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose against African Americans and Hispanics. Lasty, the Court found that SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax. In other words, the Court prevented Texas from implementing the law.