Two Important Texas Election Laws Invalidated This Week

Two separate opinions this week have resulted in defeats for Texas election laws. On August 28, one 3-judge U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., invalidated the state’s congressional and legislative district boundaries. And on August 30, another 3-judge U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., invalidated the Texas law on government photo-ID at the polls.

The redistricting decision doesn’t affect the districts in use this year. The districts in use this year were not drawn by the legislature, but by a 3-judge U.S. District Court in Texas. The redistricting decision is State of Texas v U.S.A., 11-cv-1303. ElectionLawBlog has commentary and a link to the opinion here.

The decision on photo government-ID for voters at the polls is State of Texas v Holder, 12-cv-128. Read more about it, and see a link to the decision, here at ElectionLawBlog. Both decisions are based on the Voting Rights Act.


  1. We should demand to see full form birth certificates for the there judges who ruled on the gov’t ID requirement for voting in Texas. And for all of the members of Congress who voted for the Voting Rights Act.

  2. As I read this, if TX did not charge for the documents and reimbursed the travel, it would have been ok.

  3. Jim Riley · · Reply

    The part of the Section 5 decision that Hasen found “compelling” was pretty much baloney. Perhaps in his next book he can includes sections on how to generate self-serving testimony to win voting rights cases; or how legislatures can make superficial meaningless changes to boundaries to fool judges.

    The Houston Medical Center is now split between TX-7 (represented by an Anglo Republican) and TX-9 (represented by a Black Democrat). TX-18 (represented by a Black Democrat) was shifted south, so that it now includes the portions of the medical center that was in TX-7 (including MD Anderson, and Memorial Hermann), and part from TX-9 (Methodist). Rice University was also moved from TX-7 to TX-18. TX-9 retained Baylor and the VA Hospital.

    TX-9 included the tail end of the light rail line. The Astrodome is a 50-year old building which they are talking about tearing down. It is not the economic guts of the district. Houston Baptist University was on the edge of TX-9 and was shifted to TX-18. It is relatively small and certainly not the economic engine. One could readily live in 10 congressional districts and work in the Medical Center.

    Green’s district office was on the edge of his district, a block from the boundary. He could keep his office and it wouldn’t be dramatically different, or better yet he could establish offices that were actually more convenient for his constituents. It looks like the current office is picked to be close to where he lives.

    Sheila Jackson Lee’s office is 1/2 block inside the current district boundary (in the Houston federal building), and would be 1/2 block outside the district under the proposed boundaries. Because it is on a one-way street, you have to leave the district if you are driving away from the office.

    The Houston downtown area was switched to TX-29 which is a Hispanic ability to elect district. Relatively few people live in the downtown area and it is meaningless whose district it is in as far as any job creation.

    The same is true in Dallas where some parts of the downtown area were switched. Nobody from Eddie Bernice Johnson’s office bothered to mention that she had rented a condo (she’s close to 80) in a building downtown.

  4. citizen1 · · Reply

    You need government ID to buy tobacco and alcohol but it cannot be required to participate in government.

  5. Richard Winger · · Reply

    #4, the difference is that the government also knows what each voter’s signature looks like. The government has voter registration cards on file.

    Also if a person wants to buy tobacco or alcohol and looks old, at least in my experience, no request for proof of age is requested.

  6. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #5 Texas does not check signatures at the time of voting, so any fraudulently cast ballots would be comingled with legitimate ballots.

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