Texas voter ID law struck down by federal judges

August 31, 2012

By Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY

A law in Texas that would allow would-be voters to cast ballots with only certain forms of photographic identification has been knocked down by a U.S. court in Washington.

Voter ID laws have become a hot-button issue leading up to the November presidential election, pitting state legislatures proposing and sometimes passing such laws against civil rights advocacy organizations who argue the laws are designed to keep minorities from the ballots.

In issuing their 56-page opinion Thursday, the judges wrote that the Texas law likely would have a “retrogressive effect” on the ability of minority voters to cast ballots and said the “implicit costs” of obtaining necessary ID “will fall most heavily on the poor.” The three-judge panel also noted that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty.

Texas and other proponents of voter ID laws say the measures are necessary to prevent voter impersonation or fraud. Last year, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Islandand Wisconsin passed new voter ID laws while Texas,South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee tightened existing laws.

Governors in Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire and North Carolina vetoed strict new voter ID laws. This week, South Carolina’s law is on trial in front of a three-judge panel in the same federal courthouse where the Texas law was struck down.

Civil rights organizations have argued that minority voters are less likely to have picture IDs, less likely to be able to afford new photo IDs and, in some cases, older minority voters might not have been granted the birth certificates required to obtain some forms of photographic identification.

The judges in Washington reviewed the Texas measure after the state appealed a rejection from the Justice Department, which is required to review proposed voting laws in Texas and other states and jurisdictions that have a history of voter discrimination.

The office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Today’s decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana and were upheld by the Supreme Court,” the statement said, referring to voter ID measures in those two states that passed Supreme Court challenges.

The office of Gov. Rick Perry issued a bristling statement that read, “Chalk up another victory for fraud. Federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas.”

To read more, visit: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-08-30/Texas-voter-ID-law/57454218/1

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