RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM

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Federal Appeals Court Relies On Expert Report by Barreto & Sanchez in Texas Voter ID Lawsuit

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals cited an expert report and statewide survey conducted by Matt Barreto and Gabriel Sanchez in finding that SB 14, the Texas voter ID law violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. In October 2014 the district court initially ruled against the Texas voter ID law in which Barreto and Sanchez offered an expert report and provided testimony at trial. The Latino Decisions researchers implemented a statewide survey of 2,300 eligible voters in Texas to ascertain whether or not Whites, Blacks and Latinos in Texas possessed a valid photo ID.

The survey was presented at trial by the plaintiffs alongside a database match which both concluded that Latinos and Blacks were statistically less likely than Whites to have a valid photo ID. According to expert testimony at the 2014 district court trial, Barreto and Sanchez found that 4.7% of Whites lacked an ID, 8.4% of Blacks, and 11.4% of Latinos lacked a valid photo ID.

In a comprehensive review of the lower court decision the Federal Appeals Court found that the lower court was indeed correct in concluding that the Texas voter ID law had a discriminatory impact and therefore violated the VRA. The three-judge panel issued a conclusive 49-page ruling:

“These statistical analyses of the No-Match List were corroborated by a survey of over 2,300 eligible Texas voters, which concluded that Blacks were 1.78 times more likely than Whites, and Latinos 2.42 times more likely, to lack SB 14 ID… The district court thus credited the testimony and analyses of Plaintiffs’ three experts, each of which found that SB 14 disparately impacts African-American and Hispanic registered voters in Texas….The district court did not err in concluding that SB 14 disproportionately impacts Hispanic and African-American voters…We AFFIRM the district court’s finding that SB 14 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act through its discriminatory effects”

In addition to the overall finding that Blacks and Latinos faced an discriminatory impact, the Barreto and Sanchez report contained an extensive analysis of the socioeconomic and class effects involved in possession of photo ID.  According to data in the Barreto-Sanchez survey Blacks and Latinos are also negatively impacted by their socioeconomic status relative to Whites.  Data from the U.S. Census confirmed that Black and Latino eligible voters are more likely to be poor, and that low-income residents are ten times less likely to possess a valid photo ID.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals also referenced findings from the Barreto-Sanchez expert report that socioeconomic status was an important contributing factor to the discriminatory effect of the Texas voter ID law.