Texas can’t enforce what would be the strictest voter photo-identification law in the U.S. after a judge ruled its purported goal of preventing voter fraud doesn’t outweigh the discriminatory effect on poor blacks and Latinos. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi, a 2011 appointee of Democratic President Barack Obama, threw out the measure, agreeing with the Justice Department and minority-rights activists that evidence of in-person fraud was negligible and that the law was imposed with an “unconstitutional discriminatory purpose. The draconian voting requirements imposed by SB 14 will disproportionately impact low-income Texans because they are less likely to own or need one of the seven qualified IDs to navigate their lives,” Ramos wrote in yesterday’s ruling.
Texas was one of at least four states to enact voter ID legislation later challenged in court. Pennsylvania’s law was barred by a state court judge this year. Wisconsin’s law was also blocked yesterday by a divided U.S. Supreme Court, which heeded the calls from civil rights groups that said hasty implementation of the measure would mean widespread confusion in the Nov. 4 elections.
Wisconsin’s 2011 law, one of the strictest in the nation, would have applied for the first time in this election, which features a tight race for governor between incumbent Republican Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke.