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Trial Begins In Lawsuit Challenging Texas Voter ID Law

David Martin Davies | Texas Public Radio

A federal judge in Corpus Christi began hearing arguments this week in a case challenging the state of Texas’ 2011 voter ID law.

The federal case is the first of its kind in the nation, which is one of the reasons University of Texas at Austin law professor Joseph Fishkin said that it’s being followed closely by other state governments.

"I do think it’s a case that a lot of people outside of Texas are watching because it will be the first real test of the question of whether section 2 of the Voting Rights Act calls voter ID laws into any sort of question,” Fishkin said.

Fishkin said the case will prove if this type of lawsuit is a viable way for groups in other states to challenge their voter ID laws. One of the things the state is arguing is that other states have similar laws that aren’t being challenged by various groups and the U.S. Justice Department.

"Sometimes the same law can have a different effect in different places," Fishkin said. "So a lot of the evidence in this case has to do with claims that -- plaintiffs are claiming that in a lot of rural parts of the state you can’t really get the photo IDs."

In the last two elections voters have been required to show approved photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Attorneys for the Texas attorney general’s office argue that neither election had any glitches and voters were not disenfranchised.

A decision in the case isn’t expected until after the November election.