By Luis Cabrera
August 30, 2012–A law in Texas that would require voters to show ID at the polls in November was struck down in a U.S. court. A panel of three judges rejected the notion in Washington, ruling against it unanimously. The magistrates described the proposed measure as “strict and unforgiving to the poor” while noting the law would mostly target minorities.
The issue has been a heated argument on both sides of the political spectrum, with conservatives making a push for stricter voting procedures. Under the Texas law established in 2011 and greatly lauded by Republicans, U.S. citizens would be required to properly identify themselves before casting their vote.
The measure has been largely defended by conservatives as a resource to prevent fraud at the polls. However, Democrats argue that such fraud is non-existent, and say the law is largely an instrument to prevent minorities-who form a large part of their base- from
exercising their right to vote.
Conservative groups have been advocating for similar legislation in other states. But today’s ruling prevents the ID law from going into effect in Texas, at least before the presidential election in November.
State Attorney General Greg Abbott said he will appeal today’s decision in the U.S. Supreme Court. “We are confident we will prevail,” Abbott declared.
In the legal arguments before the ruling, the Justice Department summoned several lawmakers, all of them Democrats, who alleged to see a clear racial motive in the advocacy of the voter ID law. Lawyers defending Texas said the state was simply enforcing its laws, and experts brought in by the state demonstrated the ID law has historically had very minimal effect on voter turnout.
Republicans called to testify said proper legislation is a response to the public’s demand for protection of the election process.
Texas dealt with another legal setback two days ago, when a previous federal three-judge panel agreed the state used “discriminatory purposes” in the re-drawing of its congressional and state Senate district maps.
“Texas has had its dirty laundry aired in a national stage in a matter of two days,” said Democratic state Representative Trey Martinez, who is also chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Conference. “Despicable issues of discrimination and voter suppression are things we’re not proud of,” Martinez added.
The judges in the case were Rosemary Collyer, an appointee of former President George W. Bush; Robert Wilkins, an appointee of President Barack Obama; and David Tatel, an appeals court judge appointed by former president Bill Clinton.
Tatel called the Texas law “the most stringent in the nation” and added that it would impose a heavier burden on voters than similar laws currently enacted in the states of Indiana and Georgia. The law in Indiana was previously upheld by the Supreme Court, and the Georgia’s ID measure went into effect unchallenged by the Justice Department.
South Carolina’s strict photo ID law is on trial in front of another three-judge federal panel in the same courthouse. Ruling is expected before the November election.
Source: USA Today