With a crucial court hearing just weeks away, the Texas House approved an overhaul of the voter ID law that legislators passed in 2011.
Last year, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas lawmakers discriminated against minority voters by enacting one of the nation’s strictest voter identification laws. In April, a federal judge ruled that the state discriminated on purpose, raising the possibility that she might invoke a section of the Voting Rights Act and put Texas back under federal election oversight. A status conference in the case is scheduled for June 7.
State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, has authored Senate Bill 5, which would soften current voter ID rules. The Texas House approved SB 5 in a 95-54 vote on Tuesday. The measure cleared the Senate in March, and Gov. Greg Abbott recently declared the issue an "emergency," a formal designation that helps push the House to hear the take up the measure sooner.
SB 5 would add options for Texas voters who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of seven forms of ID currently required at the polls. But it would also create harsh criminal penalties for those who falsely claim they need to choose from the expanded list of options.
Watch Tuesday's House debate above, and learn more about the effort to overhaul voter ID legislation here.