Federal judge finds that the State is depriving Texans of the right to simultaneous voter registration with online driver’s license transactions.
DALLAS — Judge Orlando Garcia, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, has found that “the State is thwarting the efforts of Texans who wish to register to vote” by failing to offer them simultaneous voter registration with their online driver’s license transactions. He released his detailed opinion granting the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment in Stringer v. Pablos on Thursday, May 10, 2018.
Throughout the litigation, Plaintiffs argued that the State of Texas violates the federal National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”), also known as the “motor voter” law, and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by failing to provide simultaneous applications for voter registration for eligible Texans who update their drivers’ license information online. In Thursday’s opinion, Judge Garcia agreed:
“DPS encourages Texans to use its online services to renew their driver’s license and change their address because it is easier and more convenient. It cannot, at the same time, deny simultaneous voter registration applications when those online services are used…Asking motor voters whether they are interested in voter registration and sending them to SOS for an entirely separate application process is not enough. The NVRA demands much more from voter registration agencies.”
Judge Garcia also found that complying with the law would not only be technologically feasible, but that the costs would be minimal, resulting in “greater efficiency for the state and increased voter registration for Texans.” He has ordered the parties to prepare a plan to bring the State into compliance with the law.
The Plaintiffs are represented by the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) and their co-counsel at Waters & Kraus, LLP, Peter Kraus, Charles Siegel, Caitlyn Silhan, and Rachel Gross. The complaint was filed on behalf of Texas voters in 2016.
Peter Kraus, a founding partner at Waters & Kraus commented that “Texas must now comply with the law and offer simultaneous voter registration to Texans who renew or update their driver’s licenses online. This change will apply to the 1.5 million Texans who go online every year to renew or update their drivers’ licenses with the Texas Department of Public Safety.”
Caitlyn Silhan, an associate at Waters & Kraus, added that “This win is an important one. The Court roundly rejected all of the defendants’ arguments, and has ordered that the State stop burdening Texans’ right to vote by forcing online driver’s license customers to jump through additional hoops to ensure they’re registered. Now, Texas will be required to offer voter registration during online driver’s license transactions, making it easier for eligible Texans to cast a ballot that counts while also making Texas’s voter registration system more efficient.”
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