Voter ID laws wend through courts, with implications for November
Catholic News Service photo
Poll workers at Christ the King School in Nashville, Tenn., sign in voters on election day.
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the new photo ID law in Texas violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The three Federal judges voted unanimously that the new Photo ID law discriminates against low-income individuals, especially blacks and Hispanics.
A cluster of federal court rulings in the waning days of August overturned several state efforts that might have limited who gets to vote this November.
Each of those rulings was likely to be appealed, however, and laws or regulations in several other states related to voter identification and poll access remained alive in federal courts.
Since the last presidential election, more than a dozen states have passed or tightened laws about the kind of identification required to vote or that reduce opportunities for early voting. Governors in five states have vetoed legislative attempts to tighten such laws.
The efforts have been promoted with warnings that voter fraud is — or could become — rampant. Opponents of the laws say they are intended to suppress turnout by poor and minority voters, who they say are most likely to lack the kinds of photo ID the laws require, least likely to be able to afford to get them and most likely to be disenfranchised if it is harder to get to the polls or vote early or by mail.
Each side accuses the other of being politically motivated. Indeed, pledges to tighten up on ID and voting procedures have been key campaign promises of Republican candidates for state legislature and governor in the last several election cycles.
As supporters of such laws took office, many state legislatures crafted bills based on models provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council, self-described as: "a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism and individual liberty."