Texas voter ID law heads to federal court - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Texas voter ID law heads to federal court

In federal court Monday, attorneys for the state of Texas began making their case in favor of the state's voter identification law.

The law was passed by the state legislature in 2011 and, among other things, will require all voters to present a state or military issued photo ID when casting their ballot. 

The Justice Department argues this law violates the Voting Rights Act by implementing unnecessary voting requirements that could deprive minorities and the elderly of their vote. Law supporters say the new law will be instrumental in stopping voter fraud.

According to state Republicans who pushed for the law in 2011, voting is a right that's easily susceptible to fraud.

A 2007 state audit showed 23,500 registered voters were actually deceased. However, more recent statistics from PolitiFact show that from 2002-2012, Texas prosecuted just 57 cases of voter fraud with 26 of those cases resulting in convictions.

"My personal opinion is this is a waste of money. It's about power and we need a balance of power," says Gus Ramirez.

Ramirez is a former Smith County Commissioner and Tyler City Council member. He says the law is merely a power struggle that could cost some citizens their vote.

"If this law is passed, many people won't have the extra funds to buy this ID or passport or whatever requirements the new law has," Ramirez says.

But, Gilbert Urbina, who works with Hispanic-American immigrants daily, says getting the identification needed to vote really isn't an issue. 

"Everybody that would qualify [to vote] under the law would have a form of ID. There's no reason they should not," he says.

Urbina says if someone is an immigrant and eligible to vote, then they have a passport or a green card which are both government issued photo IDs.

Groups who oppose the law also say it would make voting more difficult for elderly citizens. But, 98-year old Eleanor Russell disagrees.

"I have an ID card with my picture on it because I no longer drive and that's what I use to identify myself," Eleanor says.

She says she got that ID from the DPS office eight years ago. Eleanor supports the voter ID law. Other acceptable forms of ID under the law would include a concealed gun permit and a military ID but not a school ID.

A handful of states have already implemented versions of their own. In about a week, Texans can expect to know if they'll have to abide by the law, too.

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