Texas' voter ID law that was twice blocked over findings of discrimination can stay in effect for the 2018 elections, a US appeals court ruled Friday, per the AP. It was the second major ruling over voting rights in the US this week after an Arkansas judge on Thursday blocked that state's voter ID measure as unconstitutional. But in a 2-1 decision by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, the Texas law that critics have slammed as one of the toughest voter ID measures in the nation was seen as a suitable replacement for the original 2011 law that a federal judge had likened to a "poll tax" on minority voters.
The biggest change to the Texas law—which accepts handgun licenses as sufficient identification to vote, but not college student IDs—is that voters without any acceptable photo ID can still cast a ballot so long as they sign an affidavit. Opponents and a federal judge in Texas balked at the revisions, saying criminal penalties tied to lying on the affidavit could have a chilling effect on voters. The revisions to Texas' law were also supported by the US Justice Department—a move that amounted to a complete reversal of federal policy from the Obama era. But two months after Donald Trump took office, the Justice Department abandoned the argument that Texas passed voter ID rules with discrimination in mind and said the changes should satisfy the courts.
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