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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Texas agrees to weaken voter ID law

Aug. 3, 2016 Updated Wed., Aug. 3, 2016 at 2:16 p.m.

By Paul J. Weber Paul J. Weber !!!EDS--PASTE CREDIT TEXT HERE

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas agreed Wednesday to weaken its voter ID law, which federal courts have said discriminated against minorities and the poor and left more than 600,000 registered voters potentially unable to cast a ballot.

The state worked fast to soften the law before November’s election, moving from requiring voters to show one of seven forms of suitable ID – a list that included concealed handgun permits, but not college IDs – to letting those without such an ID to sign an affidavit. That will allow them to cast a regular full ballot, and their vote will be counted.

Texas also must spend at least $2.5 million on voter outreach before November, according to the agreement submitted to U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who still must approve the changes.

The changes come as judges across the U.S. are blocking several Republican-controlled states from imposing stricter election rules this November. Donald Trump referenced the rulings Tuesday while reiterating his concerns that the presidential election will be “rigged” against him.

North Carolina last week was found to have not only discriminated against minorities but passed tougher election rules with the intent of doing so. A court isn’t done considering whether Texas had the same motives, but for now, the state and U.S. Justice Department agreed on looser voter ID rules to get through this election year.

The joint proposal was the result of negotiations among Texas, the Justice Department and minority rights groups who sued over the 2011 law, which a federal appeals court said last month violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

“The provisions we’ve agreed to now are critical safeguards for voters,” said Houston attorney Chad Dunn, one of the lead attorneys in the lawsuit against Texas. “It’s a critical leap forward.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton signaled the fight wasn’t over despite the compromise for this election and didn’t rule out eventually going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This case is not over,” Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander said. He said the law has wide support in Texas to defend the integrity of elections.

The compromise far from ends the legal battle over the Texas voter ID law. In addition to ordering the law weakened, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also wants the lower court to again review whether Texas passed the restrictions with the intention of discriminating against minorities.

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