Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law

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A federal judge struck down a voter ID law in Texas on Aug. 23, preventing the state from enforcing the newly passed legislation.

The law, which required voters to show one of seven types of government-issued identification, was struck down in large part due to its effect on Hispanics and African-Americans, according to The New York Times.

Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos delivered the decision, finding that the Texas Legislature did not go far enough in its redrafting of the law to reduce discrimination against minorities. Ramos also shot down the voter ID law in 2011, finding it to be too discriminatory.

The law, known as Senate Bill 5, was loosened to allow voters to show a utility bill or other forms of identification and was set to take effect in January 2018.

Ramos' decision found that those who did not have the preferred forms of identification were “subjected to separate voting obstacles and procedures. S.B. 5’s methodology remains discriminatory because it imposes burdens disproportionately on blacks and Latinos."

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Texas' attorney general, Ken Paxton, expressed his displeasure with the decision shortly afterward.

"Today’s ruling is outrageous,” Paxton said in a statement, according to the Dallas Morning News. "The U.S. Department of Justice is satisfied that the amended voter ID law has no discriminatory purpose or effect. Safeguarding the integrity of elections in Texas is essential to preserving our democracy. The 5th Circuit should reverse the entirety of the district court's ruling."

Ramos ruled in 2014 that the voter ID law was "purposely discriminatory." She also found that it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments.

Ramos also criticized the law for not expanding the types of photo IDs permissible for voting, despite the fact that Texas has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country.

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The decision comes as a blow to the Texas Legislature as well as the U.S. Justice Department under U.S. President Donald Trump. Both parties had asked Ramos not to strike down the voter ID law because it had expanded its provisions from an earlier version, according to the Washington Times.

"Judge Ramos’s decision recognizes that a state cannot escape the consequences of its pernicious conduct without completely eliminating all vestiges of discrimination,” said Kristen Clarke, president of a lawyer's civil rights group, according to The New York Times. Her group was one of several that was suing the state of Texas over its voter ID laws.

Sources: The New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Washington Times / Featured Image: Tom Prete/Flickr / Embedded Images: Daniel Mayer/Wikimedia Commons, Rick Smith/Flickr

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