Federal Court Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law

The court said that the state failed to prove that its new law would not negatively affect the voting rights of minorities.

Posted: 08/30/2012 04:18 PM EDT
Federal Court Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law

A federal court threw out a strict voter identification law in Texas, ruling that the state had not demonstrated conclusively that the measure would not disproportionately disadvantage African-American and Latino voters. 

“The State of Texas enacted a voter ID law that — at least to our knowledge — is the most stringent in the country,” the court wrote. “That law will almost certainly have retrogressive effect: it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty.” 

The ruling came shortly after a separate three-judge panel in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Republican-controlled legislature in Texas had intentionally discriminated against Latino and African-American voters in the way they had created new districts.

Greg Abbott, the attorney general of Texas, described the federal court’s decision on voter ID as “wrong on the law” and said that Texas would continue to pursue enacting the law.  

“The state will appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we are confident we will prevail,” Abbott said, much in the way he said the state would appeal the decision in the redistricting case.

In March, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division declined to allow preclearance to the Texas law. The government’s lawyers said that the state had not met its burden to prove that the new law would not disadvantage minority voters.

The court noted statistics provided by the state indicating that Latino voters were significantly less likely to have the sort of identification cards required under the new law than were non-Hispanic, white voters. 

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