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Monday, October 24, 2016

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) — A U.S. appeals court struck down a Texas law on Wednesday requiring voters to show authorized identification before casting ballots, saying the measure violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act through its “discriminatory effects.”

The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit pertained to one of a series of laws enacted in Republican-governed states requiring potential voters to show identification.

“We affirm the district court’s finding that SB 14 (Texas Senate Bill 14) violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act through its discriminatory effect,” a three-judge panel from the New Orleans-based court said.

The measure was signed into law in 2011 by then Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, and has been the subject of legal battles since then.

Plaintiffs argued the law would hit elderly and poorer voters, including minorities, hardest because they are less likely to have such identification.

The measure, which supporters say will prevent voter fraud, requires voters to present a photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport or military ID card.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled in October 2014 that the law, which was challenged by the administration of President Barack Obama and civil rights groups, was unlawful under the Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution in part because it discriminates against minority voters.

The Obama administration has been trying to counter a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2013 that overturned parts of the Voting Rights Act. That ruling freed several states, mostly in the South, from strict federal oversight.

In its decision, the 5th Circuit judges wrote: “We recognize the charged nature of accusations of racism, particularly against a legislative body, but we also recognize the sad truth that racism continues to exist in our modern American society despite years of laws designed to eradicate it.”

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler and Eric Beech)

Photo via George Alcott/Flickr

  • I’m surprised how few people are arguing that Voter ID amounts to a fee on voting. Yes, they argue that it discriminates against the poor, but the reason WHY it discriminates against the poor is just as appalling by itself.

    I recently relocated from one state to another, and as such, had to get new State IDs. Final tally of expenses, both to get the I.D., and to get all the documentation I needed for the I.D., came to just over $80.00.

    That is how the laws discriminate against the poor, though I frankly feel that’s just overkill on the argument. Unless states are prepared to eliminate all fees to get State IDs, Voter ID is nothing more than a shameless ploy to make people pay for the right to vote.

    • Independent1

      Actually, you got off cheap. In order to get a passport a couple years back, I had to get a copy of my birth certificate that had a raised seal; I went through 65 previous years of life using a photostat copy of my certificate with not problems, including spending 9 years in the Air Force. But all of a sudden, a photostat was no longer good enough. So I had to ask the city of Chicago for a copy with a seal, and they said sure, that will be $215 please.

      Most GOP states claim they give their state IDs free – but they don’t include in that the cost of maybe taking a day off from work to do that; to maybe pay a cab to get to the state office where the ID is available (or pay the gas to get there); and they ceretainly don’t include the cost to get the documents needed for them to approve an ID – documents which millions of older Americans couldn’t get, because the little burg they were born in back in the 20s or 30s didn’t give them out, or kept track of them poorly, or over the years the originals were lost in a fire.

      As you point out, the GOP’s voter ID nonsense, given that voter fraud is virtually non existent – is nothing more than a scam created by the GOP to keep as many older, poorer voters away from the poles who may vote Democrat.