A last-minute order by the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas to apply its strict voter-identification law for the Nov. 4 midterm elections, but bigger battles over state ID requirements loom ahead of the 2016 presidential race. Voter ID cases from Texas and Wisconsin reached the high court in recent weeks, and they produced opposite results. The justices on Saturday said Texas can use its law for now, a blow to the Obama administration and civil-rights groups that challenged the requirements. On Oct. 9, the high court put Wisconsin’s law on hold, a move that blocked late changes to the state’s midterm election rules. Neither case has been resolved beyond next month’s elections, and the Supreme Court hasn’t decided the legality of either law. The court was acting on emergency requests made as Election Day nears, rather than ruling on the merits. If the high court takes up either case later on, it could provide the justices with an opportunity to clarify which kinds of voter-ID requirements are acceptable across the nation.
Texas and Wisconsin are two of 34 states that have passed laws requiring some type of identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most, but not all, of those laws are in effect.
Republicans say voter ID laws combat the possibility of fraud at the polls. Democrats say there is little evidence of fraud and that the restrictions can suppress voting among poor, minority and young voters who are less likely to carry acceptable IDs and who would be more inclined to vote Democratic.
The current batch of litigation has taken place in light of a splintered 2008 Supreme Court ruling that upheld Indiana’s voter-identification law. The court’s lead opinion said states had a valid interest in protecting the integrity of their elections. It also noted the Indiana law contained exceptions to the ID requirement that could mitigate possible burdens on some voters. Officials in Texas and elsewhere have relied heavily on that ruling.
Full Article: Voter-ID Actions Push Fight Past November – WSJ – WSJ.