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Texas Photo ID Trial Update: Closing Arguments V

Finally, following Texas’s closing argument, the Court heard brief rebuttal arguments from 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.

Finally, following Texas’s closing argument, the Court heard brief rebuttal arguments from the plaintiffs.

Richard Dellheim from the Department of Justice spoke first.

  • He stated that the Supreme Court of Wisconsin found that charging even a cent for a birth certificate or other underlying documentation to obtain ID to vote was utterly improper. The Wisconsin court cited the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw poll taxes in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections.
  • Dellheim argued that asking voters whether they would prefer to vote by mail or not vote at all is not an appropriate choice to impose.
  • Regarding racial classification errors claimed to have been found in the data Ansolabehere used, Dellheim pointed out that these errors arise from comparing Ansolabehere’s data to race classifications from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) database. However, he stated, a witness from the Secretary of State’s office admitted the DPS race classifications were “hopelessly inaccurate” and “significantly distorted.” Dellheim stated that individuals could not self-identify as Hispanic on DPS documents until 2010.
  • Dellheim argued that Texas claims that SB 14 is permissible because it does not make it metaphysically impossible for someone to obtain ID, but that is not the law. The plaintiffs do not need to show an “absolute bar” to voting in order for their claims to be successful.

Ezra Rosenberg, representing the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives (MALC), and the Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches, spoke next.

  • In regard to the alleged inaccuracies in the Barreto survey, Rosenberg pointed out that the state’s expert admitted that his “weighting” criticism was not all that significant and also that the criticism has no bearing on the racial comparisons made by Barreto.
  • Rosenberg argued that Crawford is not relevant to the Section 2 claims in this case, because Crawford didn’t deal with discrimination. He stated that here there is abundant evidence of intent to discriminate against African Americans and Hispanics, and Crawford says nothing about what to do in that circumstance.

Next to speak was Ryan Haygood, representing the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund and Plaintiff Imani Clark.

  • He stated that “this case is about real people who are impacted by real discrimination and real efforts by Texas to erect impediments to a franchise that, for them, is a precious fundamental right.”
  • Haygood argued that Texas’s claim that the plaintiffs have failed to identify actual voters who have been prevented from voting reflects ignorance to the real lived experiences of a high percentage of voters of color who are prevented from voting by SB 14. He stated that Texas’s claim reflects a distance from the actual harm that affects voters of color as a result of SB 14. Haygood said that it is not an acceptable substitute to allow voters to vote absentee if they regard it as essential to vote in person.
  • Haygood stated that more than 600,000 voters are affected by SB 14, and that a disproportionate number of them are voters of color.

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

  • He stated that the right to vote is abridged when you have to vote earlier or at a different time than others, which is what people who vote by mail have to do.
  • Dunn argued that this case presents an applied challenge, whereas Crawford was a facial challenge. Therefore, the case is of limited applicability to the decision at hand.
  • Dunn concluded by arguing that Texas has conceded that SB 14 is a poll tax. He stated that Texas didn’t respond to that argument today and has no legal support for effectively charging money for people to get an ID to vote.