The rulings came quickly this past summer in a steady drumbeat that pleased progressives and disappointed conservatives. A strict voter identification law in Texas—blocked. A North Carolina law that required voter ID, which reduced early voting and changed registration procedures—struck down for not only having discriminatory effects but also for having been passed with a racially discriminatory motive. North Dakota’s voter ID law—blocked because of bias toward Native Americans. Under an election law in Wisconsin, one federal district judge ordered an affidavit procedure for those without ID; days later, another district judge struck down provisions that limit early voting and increase residency requirements. The string of recent rulings deals serious blows to measures advanced by many Republicans in the name of election integrity, while others view them as discriminatory. The rulings indicate that “there is a limit in how far states can go in rolling back voting rights before the courts are going to step in,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine School of Law and the founder of the authoritative Election Law Blog. “Still, this is an ongoing battle,” he says. “The one thing we know for certain is these battles won’t be over when the 2016 election is decided. They will go beyond that.”
Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that opposes strict voter ID and similar restrictions, says courts are starting to see these measures for what they are.
“These are not measures aimed at combating fraud or preserving the integrity of the election process,” she says. “These are laws that attempt to make it more difficult for certain kinds of voters to participate, particularly African-Americans and Latinos.”
Hans A. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow and the manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., has a less enthusiastic reaction to the spate of decisions. “I don’t use the word absurd lightly, but I think it applies to some of these decisions,” says von Spakovsky, a former federal elections official and Department of Justice lawyer who has long advocated for strict voter ID and other election-protection measures. “What I do believe is going on is that the challengers, their lawyers and some of these judges are gaming the system.”
Full Article: Appeals courts are dismantling stricter voter ID laws.