Texas Voter ID Law Poses Problem For Thousands

By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran

(CBS News) DALLAS - A federal court in Washington heard closing arguments Friday in a challenge to Texas' voter ID law, which would require Texans to show government-approved identification in order to vote. The U.S. Department of Justice said that this would keep thousands from voting and violates the Voting Rights Act.

College students Demarieno Hill and Dominique Monday are registering voters in Houston's 3rd ward, a place where many minorities are not signed up to vote.

They don't like the new law.

"We already have an uphill struggle trying to get people registered, and now jumping through hoops will be more of a struggle," Hill said.

The law requires Texas' 13 million voters to present a photo ID at the polls -- and not just any photo ID: only a driver's license, passport, military ID, gun permit or state-issued identification card will be accepted. Attorney General Greg Abbott said it's to combat election fraud.

"This last election, in May, there were 200 votes cast for corpses, and when you have dead people casting votes, you see we have a threat to the integrity of the election system," Abbott said.

Abbott points to the 62 fraud cases prosecuted by his office over 10 years. But during the same time period, there were 39 million votes cast.

"It is statistically not there," said Kim Keenan, general counsel for the NAACP.

Keenan said the law creates new obstacles to voting for groups who traditionally vote Democratic. "This really affects seniors, and young people and people of color," she said.

In Texas, getting a photo ID is harder for some; nearly a third of the state's 254 counties don't even have a driver's license office.

Attorney General Abbott concedes that as many as 200,000 people in Texas don't have photo ID's, but said the law is necessary and not politically motivated.

"The motive behind a photo ID law is to prevent cheating at the ballot box." Abbott said.

A federal court is expected to decide later this summer whether the law will be allowed to go into effect.

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