Federal Judge Tosses Out Texas Voter ID Law

Texas voter ID courthouse

The court's ruling said changes to the law passed earlier this year by the state's legislature that were meant to be less discriminatory than an earlier one did not accomplish that.

Paxton said he will appeal the ruling, calling it "outrageous".

Texas officials and the Trump administration claimed in court filings that SB 5, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed in June, should stand because it incorporates changes the Fifth Circuit said would make the state's photo ID law comply with the Voting Rights Act.

"From discriminatory gerrymandering to discriminatory voter ID laws, it has become entirely clear that Texas Republicans are rigging our election system", Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, told The Associated Press. Groups argued that the law violated the U.S. Voting Right Act by targeting low-income, Latino and African American voters.

Two Texas Democrats who need big turnouts if they hope to win their congressional bids next fall also praised the ruling Wednesday.

Ramos also declared the new law's "declaration of reasonable impediment" a form of voter intimidation.

She ordered the parties to submit briefs by August 31 on whether she should retain jurisdiction over Texas voter ID laws.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the Southern District of Texas said the state did not allow enough types of photo IDs for voters, "even though the (5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) was clearly critical of Texas having the most restrictive list in the country". Moreover, Wednesday's decision was the eighth finding of intentional discrimination by the courts against Texas since 2011.

"T$3 he provisions of SB 5 fall far short of mitigating the discriminatory provisions of SB 14, as detailed more fully below", Gonzaels Ramos wrote in her opinion. But Gonalzes Ramos this week rejected that version, too, and said that criminal penalties Texas attached to lying on the affidavit could scare away voters fearful of making an innocent mistake.

Texas has already appealed the redistricting ruling and vowed to appeal the voter ID one.

Texas originally passed its voter ID law - then called Senate Bill 14 - in 2011. In April, Ramos reaffirmed that ruling. Texas still excludes state government IDs and student IDs, for example, which have been accepted in other states with voter ID laws.

In a series of tweets, Kristen Clarke - president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law - celebrated the Wednesday ruling while cautioning that the fight against voter suppression efforts at the state and federal level is sure to continue.

For decades, Texas was on a list of states and localities needing federal permission to change their election laws, a safeguard for minority voting rights.

Under the revised law, voters were limited to six reasons for not presenting an approved ID: "lack of transportation; lack of birth certificate or other documents needed to obtain the prescribed identification; work schedule; lost or stolen ID; disability or illness; family responsibilities; and the ID has been applied for, but not received".

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