AUSTIN, Texas—The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Congress must come up with a new formula for the Voting Rights Act, a decision that may clear the way for Texas to enforce voter identification laws and political maps that federal judges said discriminate against minorities.
The act required some states, including Texas, to get preclearance before changing election laws. The justices said in 5-4 vote that the law relies on 40-year-old data that does not reflect racial progress in U.S. society.
Until Congress comes up with a new formula to decide which states require preclearance, Texas may enforce new laws without it. Citizens may still challenge those laws in court after they take effect.
Texas had appealed two federal court rulings blocking new political maps and voter id laws.
The DPS said Tuesday the photo ID law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011 will take effect immediately in light of the Supreme Court decision. Photo identification will now be required when voting in Texas.
The DPS will begin issuing Election Identification Certificates on June 26 to voters who don’t already have an acceptable form of photo ID. Applications for the EIC will be accepted at DPS driver license offices statewide.
If an applicant already has any of the following documents, they are not eligible to receive an EIC:
- Texas driver license – unexpired or expired less than 60 days
- Texas personal identification card – unexpired or expired less than 60 days
- U.S. passport book or card – unexpired or expired less than 60 days
- Texas concealed handgun license – unexpired or expired less than 60 days
- U.S. Military identification with photo – unexpired or expired less than 60 days
- U.S. Citizenship Certificate or Certificate of Naturalization with photo
To qualify for an EIC, applicants must be:
- A U.S. citizen;
- A Texas resident;
- Eligible to vote in Texas (show a valid voter registration card or submit a voter registration application when applying for the EIC); and
- 17 years and 10 months or older.
The EIC is free of charge to qualifying applicants and is valid for six years. There is no expiration date of an EIC for citizens 70 years of age or older.
The EIC can only be used for the purpose of voting in an election and may not be used as personal identification.
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