State legislatures have begun pushing voter identification proposals since Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the Justice Department to withdraw from its legal fight against Texas’s voter ID law.
The move by Sessions is a reversal of the previous administration’s DOJ six-year legal battle against the Texas law.
Officials from the Justice Department contacted liberal activist groups on board with the lawsuit against Texas, including the Brennan Center for Justice, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the NAACP, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund about the change in policy at the DOJ, Salon reported.
Texas’s Republican majority legislature passed one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country in 2011 that mandated voters to show a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued photo ID prior to casting a ballot. The Obama administration Justice Department managed to block the law in 2013 after the department sued the state. A federal appeals court later ruled in 2016 the law discriminated against minorities without IDs and the legislation needed to be loosened.
Texas Republicans had already revealed their new voter ID bill a week before the DOJ announcement. The new legislation would revamp the state’s voter identification rules in an effort to abide by the court rulings.
Other state lawmakers seeing an opportunity with the change in policy with the new administration followed suit to join the more than 30 states with voter ID requirements at the polls. At least 16 states are considering voter ID proposals in their state legislatures.
Iowa legislators in the House passed a voter ID bill last week after 12 hours of debate. The Iowa bill calls for five forms of ID that would be valid at the polls — four include a photo. The fifth ID option is a new voter verification card the state and county would issue to each voter for free. Should a voter appear at the polls without a valid ID, the individual could cast a provisional ballot.
Critics of the bill, however, say an Iowa driver’s license does not prove one is a citizen of the U.S.
In West Virginia, a voter ID bill was proposed in a House subcommittee. It would expect voters to show government-issued photo identification at a polling place to confirm their identities before voting. Additionally, the legislation does away with the Automatic Voter Registration program on the state’s driver’s license application.
Last Wednesday the Arkansas state Senate approved legislation that would require voters to present photo ID at the polls. The bill previously passed the state’s lower chamber back in January. Similar to other states, those voters who could not show an ID would sign a sworn statement that the voter is who he or she claims to be and cast a provisional ballot. The county clerk then compares signatures to previously signed voter registration cards.
A Nevada Republican Assemblywoman proposed a voter ID bill Monday requiring ID at the polls and has a measure for the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide voter ID’s free of charge if a person cannot afford one.