The Texas governor, Greg Abbott, signed a sweeping voter ID bill into law this past July, imposing new rules on Texas voters that would prevent elderly and low-income Texans from casting ballots if they didn’t present valid proof of U.S. citizenship. In an interview with Bloomberg, Abbott was adamant that only one voter identification would be accepted, and challenged opponents who argue that one was not the appropriate standard to consider.
“Are you going to prevent everyone who wants to vote from voting?” Abbott said in the Bloomberg interview. “If you’re going to say that, if you believe that, then you ought to give us one valid proof of citizenship for everybody who has voted in this country over the last 15 years.”
The order prevented voters from dropping off absentee ballots in a drop box at their neighborhood polling location. For the first time, counties across the state would have to have at least one drop box per precinct, leaving hundreds of thousands of registered voters without a way to vote early if a box is not available.
But in August, a federal court panel ruled against the order, and ordered that counties would have until Friday to open drop boxes elsewhere in order to accommodate those voters. Several weeks after that ruling, a three-judge panel ruled unanimously that Abbott had no authority to limit drop boxes, telling the governor his order was based on a faulty interpretation of federal law.
Abbott appealed the decision, and on Thursday a three-judge panel with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling. The panel sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings, finding that Abbott had not provided evidence that the drop box requirement was necessary to protect the integrity of the vote.
“The record does not support the claim that placing a single polling location at every polling place in the State of Texas was an appropriate remedy for voting fraud,” the panel wrote.
In a statement, the Texas secretary of state’s office defended Abbott’s actions, saying that the order to limit voter drop boxes was needed for the “desperation caused by unreliable and untimely voter registration drives.”
“Simply put, Texas is a right-to-work state where requirements apply equally to every person,” Ted Lyon, the deputy secretary of state, said in a statement. “Issuing a single voter ID for all the Texas registered voters is a better solution to reduce the number of false registrations.”