Just 15 weeks before Election Day, lawsuits in nine states are raising the possibility that voters in crucial battlegrounds will face confusion over how and when to cast their ballots. The lawsuits, mostly brought by civil rights groups, take aim at the flurry of election laws recently put in place by states, including requirements that voters provide photo identification or proof of citizenship. In recent weeks, several courts have issued rulings blocking or upholding the laws, but those rulings have at times been contradictory, sowing even more confusion. The suits, which have spent years in a maze of federal courts, focus mainly on laws passed by Republican-led legislatures after the 2010 midterm elections. Those laws, voting rights advocates say, are part of a determined strategy to restrict access to the ballot box. “There is no question that a series of legislative actions by Republican legislatures have made it harder for some people to register and vote in the upcoming elections,” said Richard Hasen, a voting rights expert at University of California-Irvine School of Law.
Last week, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that struck down a Texas law requiring voters to show identification at the polls. The Texas law, considered the most restrictive in the nation, did not grant any exceptions for people without identification or a birth certificate.
As many as 600,000 Texas voters do not have the necessary documents to get a ballot, with African-American and Hispanic voters most likely to be excluded. In its ruling, the court said legislative authors of the 2011 law were “aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities.”
U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has ordered Texas and voting rights groups to submit a draft proposal recommending fixes to the law by Aug. 5. Also last week, a federal judge in Wisconsin issued a preliminary injunction against that state’s voter identification law. Attorney General Brad Schimel (R) on Friday asked the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to block that injunction and to hear an appeal on an expedited basis.
Full Article: Voter ID lawsuits sowing confusion | TheHill.