A legal team from Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office vigorously defended Texas’ voter registration procedures during oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. They demonstrated that Texas’ registration process is consistent with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and that the trial court’s slate of costly and unreasonable requirements drastically exceeded the demands of federal law. They also pointed out that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they were already registered to vote at the time they filed their lawsuit in March 2016.
“Congress, in the text of the NVRA, recognized that requiring a voter to sign a registration application is an important means of upholding election integrity,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Texas’ duly elected policy-makers agreed, and federal judges have no right to alter that decision because they disagree with it. Not only that, but the district court’s injunction also imposed an array of intrusive requirements—all at the request of plaintiffs who already have registered to vote. I’m hopeful that the 5th Circuit will reverse this decision, which is flawed from top to bottom.”
In May of last year, a U.S. District Court ruled that Texas violated the “motor voter” provision of the National Voter Registration Act by failing to automatically register voters who use the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) online driver’s license renewal and change of address website. In its injunction, the court gave the State an impossibly tight window to design and implement a new system and created a range of other requirements nowhere mandated by federal law. Shortly thereafter, the 5th Circuit granted Texas’ request for an emergency stay pending appeal.
The Texas Legislature enacted statutes governing voter registration that generally require written signatures on voter registration applications to combat election fraud. Currently, Texans who use the DPS driver’s license renewal and change of address website are sent to a separate page – administered by the Texas secretary of state – where they can complete an online application, print it out, sign it and mail it to their county voter registrar.