Unless either the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal or Supreme Court intervenes, more than 608,000 lawfully registered Texans, who were illegally disenfranchised during three successive elections (the General Elections in 2014 and 2015 and this year's Presidential Primary), are likely to again be barred from casting a vote in the November 2016 general election.
A disproportionate number of those who have been and may be deprived of a right that is, at least in part, supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) are impoverished African-Americans and Hispanics.
The source of disenfranchisement is a Republican-sponsored polling place Photo ID law which state Democrats had spent years, and no small amount of effort (even life-endangering effort) attempting to oppose.
Republicans insist that such laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. But, as detailed by the 2011 sworn Congressional testimony of Justin Levitt (then a Loyola Law Professor, now an Assistant U.S. Attorney), cases of in-person voter impersonation fraud --- the only type of voter fraud that can be prevented by polling place Photo ID restrictions --- are extraordinarily rare: nine possible cases out of more than 400 million votes cast. "Americans are struck and killed by lightening more often," Levitt observed.
Later, in a 2014 update to his comprehensive investigation of all existing reports "voter fraud" in the U.S. over the 14 preceding years, Levitt announced evidence of just 31 cases of the type of voter fraud that might have been deterred by Photo ID restrictions out of more than 1 billion votes cast since the year 2000.
Claims of this type of "voter fraud," according to the renowned, Reagan-appointed 7th Circuit jurist, Richard Posner, are but "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government"...
Posner's comments came in a federal Wisconsin case where a deeply flawed and extraordinarily partisan panel decision resulted in electoral chaos and the potential disenfranchisement of some 300,000 legally-registered Wisconsin voters during last week's Presidential Primary elections in the Badger State. That flawed decision, which upheld Wisconsin's Photo ID law as lawful, despite the trial court's very clear findings to the contrary, was allowed to stand because the full 7th Circuit Court was evenly divided (5-5) on the matter.
In Texas, however, a Republican state Attorney General has been permitted to enforce a Photo ID statute (SB-14) even after three federal courts unanimously determined that, at a minimum, the statute unlawfully violates rights guaranteed by the VRA. In Texas, mass disenfranchisement has been the product of an epic failure by our courts to uphold constitutional and statutory rights that every member of our judiciary has sworn to uphold and protect.
Unless the U.S. Supreme Court acts quickly, it could happen once again during the 2016 Presidential General election...