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Federal Court Blocks Texas’ “Retrogressive” Voter ID Law

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In a major historic victory for opponents of voter suppression laws, a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia blocked a Texas law that would have required voters to show a photo identification before being allowed to vote. The law, which was signed last year by Republican Governor Rick Perry, mandated that Texas voters who did not have proper ID pay $22 for a state issued card. Some voters would have to travel as far as 250 miles to get the ID and the majority of those who would need to obtain the ID would have been poor and minority voters. Stating their case, the court said, “That law will almost certainly have retrogressive effect: it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor; and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty.”

According to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which was passed in 1965, states like Texas, which have a long history of discriminating against minority voters are required to obtain federal approval before altering their voter laws. When the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division refused to approve the Texas law, the state filed a lawsuit requesting that the court allow the state to enforce the law. Now, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott is saying that the State will appeal yesterday’s ruling to the US Supreme Court. Last year 8 states, 7 of them with Republican Governors, passed voter ID laws.

GUEST: Robert Notzon, Texas NAACP legal redress chair