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Texas civil rights group fights for online voter registration

A civil rights group on Tuesday renewed a four-year-old courtroom campaign to force the state of Texas to adopt online voter registration.

An attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project told a federal judge that Texans should be allowed to register to vote when they use online systems to apply for or renew their driver's licenses in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act, a 1993 federal law passed before Microsoft released Internet Explorer.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws that will allow a person to register to vote online before the 2020 presidential election.

Beth Stevens, the attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, argued the state had no intention of making it easier for people to vote, asking U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia to force the state to adopt online voter registration, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

State officials countered that Texas complies with the "motor voter law" by allowing a person to register to vote in person at Department of Public Safety offices but nothing in federal or state law requires online registration.

Currently, a person applying for or updating their license through the DPS website only has the option of clicking a link that opens a printable voter registration form that must be signed by hand and mailed to election officials.

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The Texas Civil Rights Project first sued the state in 2016 over its lack of an online registration option. Garcia, the judge hearing the current case, ruled in favor of the civil rights group in 2018, but the decision was overturned after an appeals court found the plaintiffs — four Texans — no longer had standing because they had successfully registered to vote while the case was on appeal.

MOVE Texas and the League of Women Voters of Texas have joined the latest lawsuit, claiming the lack of online registration forces the groups to spend more time and money registering people in person.

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