It’s far too soon to make any predictions. But a recent decision by a federal judge in the challenge to Texas’s harsh voter ID law may augur well for the chances of getting the law struck down when it goes to trial in September. Overturning the law would be a massive win for the Obama administration, which is spearheading the challenge, and could boost Democrats’ long-term hopes of competing in Texas. It would be an embarrassing defeat for Gov. Rick Perry and for Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is highlighting his defense of the law as he runs to succeed Perry as governor. The law, passed in 2011 with strong support from Perry, imposes the strictest ID requirement in the nation. It requires that Texans show one of a narrow range of state or federal IDs. Gun licenses are accepted, but student IDs, and even out-of-state driver’s licenses, aren’t. Finding that it would disproportionately affect minority voters, a federal court blocked the law in 2012 under the Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required the state to get federal approval for its voting laws. But hours after the Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 last year, Abbott announced that the law would go into effect.
The U.S. Justice Department, joined by civil rights groups including the NAACP and groups representing Hispanics, then filed a new challenge to the law under a different section of the Voting Rights Act. Abbott has responded defiantly. “Eric Holder is trying to stop Texas from enforcing our voter identification law,” he frequently says on the campaign trail. “Voter fraud is real, it must be stopped, and I will take my case all the way to the Supreme Court.”
If the law stays in effect, it could give Republicans an electoral edge going forward, including this fall when Abbott will take on Democrat Wendy Davis. It’s hard to say how many voters will ultimately be disenfranchised by the ID requirement. But by one estimate, one in ten Texans—disproportionately non-whites—lack any of the forms of ID that the law accepts. An aggressive effort by Democrats and their allies to register new voters—many of whom are Hispanic—as they look to make the Lone Star State competitive means the law’s impact in keeping people from the polls could be especially large.
But last week’s ruling, in which U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos denied almost all of a set of motions filed by Abbott’s office to dismiss the case before it goes to trial, suggests that keeping the law in place won’t be a slam-dunk for the AG and his allies.
Full Article: Texas voter ID law must stand trial, judge rules | MSNBC.