In 2011, a law in Texas was enacted that required Texas residents to show one of seven forms of approved identification prior to being allowed to vote, for the purpose of preventing fraud. Apparently, however, President Barack Obama’s administration was not very fond of this new law. The Obama administration challenged the Texas law using the U.S. Justice Department, arguing that the law discriminates by requiring forms of identification that are more difficult to obtain for low-income, African-American and Latino Voters.[1] Arguments in opposition to the law raised the economic burdens associated with the law, such as the difficulty in finding and purchasing a proper birth certificate to obtain an ID.[2] The American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief as well, citing testimony indicating numerous issues, including burdensome travel and expenses required for the documentation to obtain IDs.[3] Proponents of the law argued that “the state makes free IDs easy to obtain. They said any inconveniences or costs involved in getting one do not substantially burden the right to vote.”[4]

On Wednesday July 20, 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this Texas law violates the Voting Right Act[5] and required changes to be made before the November general election to reduce the “discriminatory effect” of the law.[6] There are many instances throughout the country where citizens’ rights to vote are burdened either by a law, such as the one discussed here, or by other state actions. If you or someone you know believe that your right to vote has been unconstitutionally burdened, call an experienced election law attorney immediately – the November election is right around the corner!


By Ara M. Baghdassarian, Esq., Barnes Law

Ara is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in California.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.


[1] http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/07/20/federal-appeals-court-orders-changes-to-texas-voter-id-law.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Voting Rights Act was enacted and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. Its goal was to overcome legal barriers that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the United States Constitution’s 15th Amendment. (http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/voting-rights-act)

[6] http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/07/20/federal-appeals-court-orders-changes-to-texas-voter-id-law.html