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Federal Appeals Court Orders Changes To Texas Voter ID Law

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Texas' strict voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and has ordered changes before the November election.

The ruling was issued Wednesday by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling instructs a lower court to make changes that fix the "discriminatory effect" of the 2011 law in the months leading up to this fall's election.

But the ruling said the lower court should make changes that disrupt this year's election season as little as possible.

The Obama administration took the unusual step of deploying the weight of the U.S. Justice Department into the case when it challenged the law.

Governor Greg Abbott released the following statement on the 5th Circuit Court's Voter ID ruling:

"The 5th Circuit rightly reversed the lower court's finding of discriminatory purpose, but wrongly concluded the law had a discriminatory effect. Voter fraud is real, and it undermines the integrity of the election process. As Attorney General I prosecuted cases against voter fraud across the State, and Texas will continue to make sure there is no illegal voting at the ballot box."

Attorney General Ken Paxton released the following statement on the ruling.

"It is imperative that the State government safeguards our elections and ensures the integrity of our democratic process. Preventing voter fraud is essential to accurately reflecting the will of Texas voters during elections, and it is unfortunate that this common-sense law, providing protections against fraud, was not upheld in its entirety."

Matt Angle, the Director of the Lone Star Project, a Democratic political action committee released this statement:

"The 5th Circuit is the most conservative federal appeals court in the country.  By ruling that the Texas law is discriminatory, they confirmed what has been clear for years:  Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton and other Texas Republican leaders are overtly hostile to Hispanic and African American Texans, and passed a voting law that discriminates against them."

Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said in a statement:

"We're delighted that the 5th Circuit has determined — once again – that Texas' discriminatory photo voter ID law has the effect of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of minority voters in the Lone Star State while doing precisely nothing to prevent voter fraud. This law was nothing less than a brazen and transparent attempt to keep people of color out of the voting booth. The case now goes back to the district judge to fashion a remedy that will make it easier for qualified Texans to cast their ballots this fall and we're hopeful the result will be more fair."

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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