Court blocks Texas voter-ID law, cites bias against minorities, poor
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|Fri, 08-31-2012 - 12:55pm|
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the state's attorney general, Greg Abbott, vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — A federal court Thursday struck down a Texas law that would have required voters to show government-issued photo identification before casting ballots in November, ruling the law would hurt turnout among minority voters and impose "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" by charging those voters who lack proper documentation fees to obtain election-ID cards.
The three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia called Texas' voter-identification law the most stringent in the country.
Gov. Rick Perry and the state's attorney general, Greg Abbott, vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The judges' ruling came two days after another three-judge panel in the same federal court found that the Texas Legislature had intentionally discriminated against minority voters in drawing up new political maps for the state's congressional and legislative districts, citing the same section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Known as Senate Bill 14, the state's voter-identification law requires voters who show up at the polls to identify themselves with one of five forms of ID, including a driver's license or a U.S. passport.
Those lacking one of the five types of identification must obtain a so-called election-identification certificate, a government-issued card similar to a driver's license.
Prospective voters would need to travel to a state Department of Public Safety office to get an election-ID card. Although it is free, they would have to verify their identity to obtain one, in some cases paying $22 for a certified copy of their birth certificate.
In its unanimous ruling, the federal judges found the fees and the cost of traveling for those voters lacking one of the five forms of ID disproportionately affected the poor and minorities.
Perry on Thursday criticized the judges and the Obama administration. "Chalk up another victory for fraud," he said.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder praised the ruling: "The court's decision today and the decision earlier this week on the Texas redistricting plans not only reaffirm — but help protect — the vital role the Voting Rights Act plays in our society to ensure that every American has the right to vote and to have that vote counted."