Published: Wed, April 12, 2017
USA | By Angel Wallace

Texas voter ID law was designed to discriminate, judge rules

Texas voter ID law was designed to discriminate, judge rules

The ruling on voter ID comes about a month after two federal judges ruled that Texas lawmakers drew up three USA congressional districts to undermine the influence of Hispanic voters. Sign up at Tribune.com for our upcoming newsletter.

She also concluded in Monday's ruling that the law "had a discriminatory impact" and that there had been a "pattern of conduct unexplainable on grounds other than (the) race factor". The case then moved to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans as a result, where jurists there found Ramos had relied too much on the states's history of enacting discriminatory voting measures-labeling such evidence as "infirm" - while asking her to reconsider the question of discriminatory intent, as the Times reported.

And the court highlighted that the "evidence shows a tenuous relationship" between the stated goal of reducing voter fraud and the legislation ultimately passed, given the rarity of voter impersonation cases in Texas - and that other, more prevalent forms of voter fraud were not addressed by the bill.

Proponents of the law say requiring photo IDs before casting a vote prevents voter fraud.

For the fifth time, a court has ruled that a Texas voter identification law was passed with the intention of discriminating against black and Hispanic voters in the state-hopefully sounding "the death knell" for the egregious voter suppression effort.

Her ruling sets the stage for a potential penalty for Texas that could have a long-lasting effect. The Fifth Circuit basically punted on the matter previous year, ruling that Ramos should have applied a more narrow standard and kicking the case back into her court.

The court's ruling came the same day that the House Elections Committee was scheduled to hear testimony on a bill aimed at fixing the issues with the current law.

Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice joined a legal challenge to SB 14 brought by Congressman Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens and others.

Voter ID laws have stirred controversy elsewhere. A recent Associated Press analysis of roughly 13,500 affidavits submitted in Texas' largest counties found at least 500 instances in which voters were allowed to get around the law by signing an affidavit and never showing a photo ID - despite indicating that they possessed one.

In a long-running case over the legality of one of the toughest voter ID laws in the country, the judge found that the law violated the federal Voting Rights Act. But the states were freed from that requirement in 2013, following a Supreme Court decision that invalidated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Texas appeared to resist her orders, and the judge again directed state officials to make it clear to voters that voter ID wasn't required to cast a ballot in the November election.

Samuel Bagenstos, a law professor at the University of MI and a principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights in President Barack Obama's Justice Department, noted the timing of the ruling.

Spokesmen for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Jr. and Governor Greg Abbott, both Republicans, could not be reached for comment.

At the heart of the legal case still winding through the courts over Texas' strict voter ID law is whether lawmakers knew they were passing bill that would disproportionately disenfranchise black and Hispanic voters.

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