November 14, 2019/Media, Press

ICYMI: Conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Overturns Common-Sense Voter Registration Ruling

Would Have Allowed Texans to Update Their Voter Registration While Renewing Their Driver’s License Online, Just Like Texans Who Obtain Their License In Person

Austin, TX — Yesterday, the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio found that Texas was in violation of the federal National Voter Registration Act and the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because “it treated voters who dealt with their driver’s licenses online differently than those who obtained or renewed their licenses in person at Texas Department of Public Safety offices.” 

More from the Texas Tribune:

  • “A federal appeals court has overturned a previous ruling that could have opened the door to online voter registration in Texas.”

  • “In a Wednesday court order, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal district judge’s ruling that Texas was violating federal law by failing to register residents to vote when they updated their driver’s licenses online. The panel of three federal judges that considered the case did not clear the state of wrongdoing but instead determined that the three Texas voters who had brought the lawsuit did not have standing to sue.”

  • “The legal dispute came after three Texas voters who moved from one county to another were unable to reregister to vote when they updated their driver’s licenses through the state’s online portal. Although the state follows the law for individuals who renew their driver’s licenses in person, Texas does not allow for online voter registration.”


  • “Two of the voters who sued the state believed they had registered and didn’t discover they were not on the voter rolls until they tried to vote in 2014. They were allowed to cast provisional ballots, but their votes were not counted. The third voter also believed he was registered to vote and only discovered he wasn’t when he sought help from county officials to determine his polling location for a 2015 election.”


    • “But the 5th Circuit sided with the state’s argument that the voters could not take the issue on in court because they had since successfully registered to vote and were ‘no longer’ harmed by the state’s practice.”


  • “Texas’ Republican leadership has long shot down efforts to enact online voter registration in the state. As of last month, 37 states offered residents the ability to register online.”


Texas Democratic Party Spokesperson Brittany Switzer issued the following statement:

“It is the Texas Department of Public Safety’s job to help Texans register to vote when they are getting their new license, whether that is online or in person. Time and time again, we’ve seen Republican state agencies, politicians, and courts make it harder for people to get registered to vote and cast their ballot. We should be making registering to vote easier, not harder. This is a disappointing reversal for Texas voters.”