Texas Voter ID law hurts minorities the most, experts say

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Washington D.C. — The Texas Voter ID law that requires specific identification for voters in that key state will have a far greater impact on minority voters than on non-minorities, disenfranchising Hispanic and Black voters, experts have said this week at the federal trial.

Election officials check the photo identification card of a voter in Cimarron, Kansas. Voter ID laws designed to deter fraud may end up blocking thousands of legitimate ballots. A three-court panel may rule on Texas’ controversial law. (AP Photo/The The Hutchinson News, Travis Morisse, File)

Closing arguments are expected today in the controversial case. State legislators defend the measure as a counter to fraud while civil rights advocates and the U.S. Department of Justice are fighting what they see as a targeted voter suppression tool.

Harvard University professor, Steven Ansolabehere, an expert in statistics and elections, testified Thursday and said that, according to his research, the 2011 law that requires voters to present a valid government ID is most likely to affect Hispanic and Black voters.

A day before Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis stood on the witness stand proclaiming that the bill “has everything to do with race” and “particularly when it comes to Hispanics.”

The three-judge panel on the District Court of the District of Columbia may rule against the Texas law if they find enough evidence that quantifies that the intent of legislators was to disenfranchise the Hispanic and Black community.

Attorney Luis Figueroa of the Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund told VOXXI that he feels confident they’ve done an “excellent job” presenting their case.

“The facts have been clearly laid out,” said Figueroa, explaining that the evidence presented to the court shows that there were several irregularities in the process to get the bill passed. Whether it was “abandoning the two-thirds rule or preventing minorities from having an input on the bill,” he said.

The DOJ blocked the law in March, citing the Voting Rights Act. Texas then sued the federal government. Other states with similar laws, such as Kansas and Mississippi, are watching closely to see how the ruling might affect their own voter ID laws.

The counter argument was heard from one of the witnesses claiming that the Voter ID law will not have an effect on voter turnout.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann displays one of over 1,000 signs that have been posted throughout Mississippi in June to inform voters on photo IDs for voting. Such laws are under fire from the federal government and civil rights advocates who say they are measures to suppress minority votes. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Daron Shaw, who is a government professor at the University of Texas demonstrated evidence from other states that had passed Voter ID laws. He indicated that very few voters were deterred because of similar requirements with Texas’ law.

Yet, Figueroa maintains that the cases do not compare because plaintiffs for Texas’ law have not shown enough evidence of the electoral fraud that the law is meant to prevent.

“The evidence that has been presented to this case has shown instances of intimidation of other type of fraud, but not anything that will be prevented by Senate Bill 14,” Figueroa told VOXXI.

Figueroa said although there’s been cited evidence of minimal fraud over the years, none of it has been voter impersonation fraud.

Texas carries the burden of proof and judges have indicated that they want to make a decision before November. Many critics have questioned that the Texas law is a test-case for Republicans to challenge the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act at the Supreme Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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