Texas’ Recent Controversial Election Law. A USC Law Professor Argues Disenfranchisement

In September, a University of Southern California law professor told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that the state’s newest voter ID law is racist during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Tolson, the Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at USC, who has written on numerous issues in the areas of partisan gerrymandering, political parties, the Elections Clause, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, has challenged Governor Greg Abbott’s Republican-backed voting law that is a huge departure from Texas’ election law.

Specifically, the bill, entitled SB1, bans drive-thru voting and prohibits 24-hour and overnight voting while also preventing voters from casting a ballot inside a vehicle. During the hearing, Sen. Cruz asked Tolson, who also serves as the vice dean for faculty and academic affairs if she found voter ID laws racist, to which she replied with the law school answer of “it depends.”

Pick Up From Here

Proponents of the new law say that requiring photo IDs before casting a vote would help prevent voter fraud, while others, including Tolson, argue that this would actually disenfranchise minority voters who often face an uphill battle already.

“The fact that the voter ID law was put into place to diminish the political power of Latinos with racist intent,” Tolson explains, is what makes Texas’ election law racist. Back in 2017, the Texas legislature enacted a strict voter ID law, which was held to be in violation of Section two of the Voting Rights Act, which the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld.

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Bottom Line

As it currently stands, Texas has one of the most strict voting laws in the country, which initially was passed in 2011 and went into effect in 2013 after the Supreme Court’s five to four decision in Shelby County v. Holder

The Holder court held that voters are required to present government-issued photo IDs, such as a state driver’s license, a Texas election identification certificate, a U.S. passport, or a military identification card. 

Critics of the new legislation argue that the bill’s current provisions would disproportionately make it more difficult for people of color and those with disabilities to vote. 

Andrew Rossow is a Legal Contributor at Lawrina. He is a practicing attorney, adjunct law professor, writer, and speaker on cybersecurity, digital monies, and privacy. Utilizing his millennial upbringing, Rossow provides a well-rounded perspective on legal and technology implications Bitcoin brings to the world of consumer finance. HIs work has been featured on Bloomberg News, Cheddar, CoinTelegraph, Law360, and numerous others. You can follow him on Twitter at @RossowEsq or visit his website AR Media Consulting.

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