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Texas' Voter Identification Law Heads to Court

First Posted: Sep 02, 2014 03:42 PM EDT

A U.S. court in Texas will hear arguments on Tuesday over the state's voter identification law, which requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.

Texas Republicans say that law reduces voter fraud, while opposition of the law claims that it's an attempt by the Republican party to discourage minority voters, according to a report from Reuters.

The trial at the U.S. district court in Corpus Christi is borne of a three-year legal battle over stringent voter ID regulations, which were signed into law by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, in 2011.

The trial will be heard by District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos is expected to last two weeks. A decision should be handed down before the Nov. 4 congressional election.

The voter ID case is part of a new strategy by President Barack Obama's administration to get rid of voting laws it says racially discriminate. A June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court gave states voting rights free of federal oversight.

The Texas law requires voters to show state-issued photo IDs, like a concealed handgun license or a driver's license. Other forms of ID, like a student identification card, are invalid.

The plaintiffs in this case say that poorer voters, oftentimes minorities, are generally less likely to have these kinds of ID and would be more likely to be barred from voting precincts on election day. Minorities in the U.S. historically have supported the Democrats.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that Texas will be the first in his effort to reform restrictive voting laws across the country. Holder added that Texas has a history of violating voting rights of minorities.

The Texas attorney general's office released a statement ahead of the trial that says the law is meant to protect the integrity of Texas elections.

"Voter ID has already been used in several elections in Texas without the disenfranchisement claimed by partisans who seem to be against election integrity," the statement said.

If Texas loses the trial, it will be required to get federal approval on changes to its voting laws, The New York Times reported.

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