WASHINGTON - A federal court has ruled against a Texas law that would require voters to present photo IDs to election officials before being allowed to cast ballots in November.
A three-judge panel in Washington ruled Thursday that the law imposes "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty.
"This is a great step forward for all of us who regard access to the ballot box as a privilege and a right for all Americans," said Linda Cohen of the League of Women Voters.
The decision involves an increasingly contentious political issue: a push, largely by Republican-controlled legislatures and governor's offices, to impose strict identification requirements on voters.
"Chalk up another victory for fraud," Gov. Rick Perry said. "Today, federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas and undermined our effort to ensure fair and accurate elections. The Obama Administration's claim that it's a burden to present a photo ID to vote simply defies common sense. I will continue to work with Attorney General Abbott to fight for the same right that other states already have to protect their elections."
Under the now-blocked law, Texans would have had to show a driver's license, an election certificate, a personal identification card, a concealed handgun license, a military identification or passport to submit their ballot.
"The Supreme Court of the United States has already upheld Voter ID laws as a constitutional method of ensuring integrity at the ballot box," Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott said. "Today's decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana - and were upheld by the Supreme Court. The State will appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we are confident we will prevail."
The ruling comes in the same week that South Carolina's strict photo ID law is on trial in front of another three-judge panel in the same federal courthouse. A court ruling in the South Carolina case is expected in time for the November election.
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