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Texas Photo ID Trial Update: Closing Arguments III

Chad Dunn, representing the Veasey/LULAC Plaintiffs, concluded the closing arguments for the plaintiffs.

  • Carson Whitelemons
September 22, 2014

After nearly a year of litigation, the Texas photo ID trial started on September 2. Closing arguments are today. Visit our trial page for more updates.

Chad Dunn, representing the Veasey/LULAC Plaintiffs, concluded the closing arguments for the plaintiffs.

  • Dunn opened his argument by noting that Texas is a proud state, and that no one is more proud to be from Texas than he. He noted, too, that he represents various Texans who came to the court, ten-gallon hats in hand, asking that the constitution applies to them.
  • Dunn noted that in voting rights litigation of the past, states were passing laws denying the right to vote, so he and others worked to stop that. Then legislators started diluting the right to vote instead, and he and others fought against that. Recently, however, states have returned to denying the right to vote again. And the court today has to stop that.
  • Dunn argued that under the Supreme Court’s ruling in Crawford, preventing in-person voter fraud is an important state interest, but it wasn’t necessary to impose SB 14 to meet the stated state interest. The evidence shows mail ballots are more likely to be fraudulently cast but SB 14 doesn’t apply to them.
  • Dunn pointed out that the Election Identification Certificate (EIC) Birth Certificate application, until moments before this trial, mistakenly stated that photo ID was required to obtain one, and that this is representative of the state’s overall flawed implementation of SB 14. Dunn stated that this was the first time that a law enforcement agency is responsible for enfranchising voters, and that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) has unfettered discretion to administer the EIC program. He highlighted some of the results of this unfettered discretion: DPS taking fingerprints, non-standard administration of EIC distribution, and little demonstrated interest by DPS to make the process better.
  • Dunn stated that Texas only spent $400,000 of its own money to implement SB 14, and some money from HAVA funds additionally went toward telling people they would need ID, but not how to get this ID. 
  • He pointed out that despite the many provisional ballots cast related to ID in low turnout elections since the implementation of SB 14, the State has shown no interest in following up or investigating these votes.
  • Dunn stated that Crawford was a facial challenge, where no individuals who would be affected were identified. He noted that this case, on the other hand, is an as-applied challenge, with witnesses who’ve testified about real harms.
  • Dunn stated that it is inexcusable that Texas still charges any fee for an EIC Birth Certificate, because the court has ruled that “any material fee” imposed on a federal voter in unconstitutional.
  • In the Wisconsin Seventh Circuit case, Dunn argued that the Circuit Court and District Court opinion favor the court enjoining SB 14 in Texas. He stated that the 7th circuit only lifted the injunction on the state’s photo ID law because the state had made changes to the law that ensured underlying documents need to get ID were available for free.
  • Dunn concluded by asking the court to be our conscience, by providing a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. Such a judgment, he stated, would be a triumph of equality and freedom.