Federal court rules against Texas voter photo ID law
Greg Abbott, Texas's attorney general, said he will appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court, confident of prevailing there.
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Last December, South Carolina's voter ID requirement became the first such law to be rejected by the Justice Department in nearly 20 years. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the attorney general made a "very serious error" by blocking it. Romney said the requirement is easy to meet and will stem voter fraud.Skip to next paragraph
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"We don't want people voting multiple times" and "you can get a photo ID free from your state. You can get it at the time you register to vote," Romney said.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the Justice Department's chief civil rights enforcer, has said the Texas and South Carolina photo ID laws will hinder many citizens, particularly minorities, in exercising their right to vote.
Across much of the South, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is viewed as an overly intrusive burden on the states — a relic once used by the Justice Department's civil rights division to remedy discriminatory practices that no longer exist. Under Section 5 of the act, Texas, South Carolina and all or parts of 14 other states must obtain clearance from the Justice Department's civil rights division or a federal court before carrying out changes in elections. The states are mostly in the South and all have a history of discriminating against blacks, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaskan Natives or Hispanics.
Last year, new voter ID laws passed in Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. In addition to Texas and South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee tightened existing voter ID laws to require photo ID. Governors in Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire and North Carolina vetoed new photo ID laws.
This year, Pennsylvania enacted its own law and voting-rights groups who filed suit in an effort to stop it are appealing to the state Supreme Court. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13 in Philadelphia. The Republican administration of Gov. Tom Corbett says a U.S. Justice Department inquiry into the state's tough new voter identification law is politically motivated. The department is requesting the state's voter registration list, plus any database of registered voters who lack a valid photo ID that the law requires voters to show before their ballots can be counted.
In Wisconsin, a county judge ruled in July that the state's new photo ID law impairs the right to vote. In an appeal, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, is arguing that the ID law doesn't impose an undue burden because voters can get free state ID cards.
Election administrators and academics who monitor the issue said in-person fraud is rare because someone would have to impersonate a registered voter and risk arrest. A report by the Brennan Center for Justice determined that new voting restrictions could suppress the votes of more than 5 million young, minority, low-income and disabled voters.
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