A three-judge panel threw out Texas’s voter identification law in court today, ruling that it would inflict an undue burden on the poor and minorities.
“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 court wrote in its opinion. (Read the opinion here, via the Election Law Blog).
It’s a big victory for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, as it began its case on a similar law in South Carolina just this week. The department has challenged several such laws in states across the country, saying the voter ID provisions would violate the Voting Rights Act by enacting hurdles to voting.
The cases are intensely political in this presidential election year. Republicans say the laws are an effort to root out voter fraud and streamline voting. Democrats charge they are blatant attempts at disenfranchising Democratic-leaning voters.
“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,” Attorney General Eric Holder said today in a statement.