Judge Presses Texas to Abide by Voter ID Order

     CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CN) — Texas must revise its voter-education materials to “accurately reflect” the terms of a court order that watered down its voter ID law, a federal judge ruled.
     U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ordered Texas to lighten its voter ID law on Aug. 10 after the en banc Fifth Circuit ruled in July that it discriminates against minorities.
     An estimated 600,000 Texans do not have an acceptable form of photo ID under Texas’s law, SB 14, signed by former Gov. Rick Perry in 2011.
     The feds claimed in a motion to enforce the interim order that Texas edited its wording to misrepresent to minorities they could only sign a “Reasonable Impediment” affidavit to vote if it was impossible for them to get an acceptable photo ID.
     Gonzales Ramos granted the feds’ motion Tuesday.
     “Texas shall re-issue its press releases concerning voting to properly reflect the language in the court’s order,” the two-page ruling states.
     She also ordered Texas to edit its website VoteTexas.org and posters that will be placed at poll sites.
     “Texas shall provide to counsel for all plaintiffs scripts and copy for documents and advertisements that have not yet been published for review and objection prior to publication,” the President Barack Obama-appointee added.
     Texas officials did not respond to a voice message Tuesday asking how much it will cost to edit its election materials in compliance with the latest order.
     Gonzales Ramos ordered the state in August to spend at least $2.5 million on voter education for the November 8 election.
     The Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches and League of United Latin American Citizens, and Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, an African-American, are co-plaintiffs in the case.
     “I think the judge is trying to make sure that potential voters who are going to utilize this process have all the information they need to make it easier for them to vote,” their attorney Neil Baron said Tuesday.
     In court filings, the Justice Department and NAACP have also accused Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, chief election officer of the state’s most populous county, of scaring minority voters, by threatening to file criminal perjury charges against anyone who falsely states on the affidavit they cannot get an SB 14 ID.
     But Baron said prosecutors must prove voters were intentionally deceptive to prove perjury.
     “Nobody who makes a good faith mistake in attempting to vote should be prosecuted by the state,” he said in an interview.
     Ramos Gonzales’ order is by no means the last word in the case.
     Texas plans to appeal the Fifth Circuit ruling that found the law discriminatory to the Supreme Court this week, a Paxton spokesman told the Texas Tribune.
     Texans can present a certified birth certificate, bank statement or paycheck to poll workers and sign an affidavit stating they “cannot reasonably obtain” one of seven acceptable forms of photo ID under the interim order.
     The Justice Department cried foul in a motion to enforce the Aug. 10 interim order after Texas published election materials that replaced “do not possess” with “cannot obtain” an SB 14 ID as a valid excuse for voting with an affidavit.
     The feds said the alterations could have falsely led minorities to believe they couldn’t vote if they lost their ID or it was stolen.

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