Voter ID laws have become a hot-button issue leading up to the November presidential election, pitting state legislatures proposing and sometimes passing such laws against civil rights advocacy organizations who argue the laws are designed to keep minorities from the ballots.
In issuing their 56-page opinion Thursday, the judges wrote that the Texas law likely would have a “retrogressive effect” on the ability of minority voters to cast ballots and said the “implicit costs” of obtaining necessary ID “will fall most heavily on the poor.” The three-judge panel also noted that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty.
Texas and other proponents of voter ID laws say the measures are necessary to prevent voter impersonation or fraud. Last year, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Wisconsin passed new voter ID laws while Texas,South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee tightened existing laws.
Governors in Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire and North Carolina vetoed strict new voter ID laws. This week, South Carolina’s law is on trial in front of a three-judge panel in the same federal courthouse where the Texas law was struck down.