Less than two weeks before the start of early voting, a federal judge ruled the state’s photo voter ID law unconstitutional late Thursday and ordered state officials to drop the new requirements.
“The Court holds that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi wrote in a 147-page opinion. “The Court further holds that SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax.”
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state would immediately file an appeal to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The State of Texas will immediately appeal and will urge the Fifth Circuit to resolve this matter quickly to avoid voter confusion in the upcoming election,” Lauren Bean said in an emailed statement. “The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are constitutional so we are confident the Texas law will be upheld on appeal.”
The voter ID law, enacted last year, requires most citizens (some, like the disabled, can be exempt) to show one of a handful of allowable photo identification cards before their votes can be counted. Acceptable forms of photo ID include a Texas driver’s license or state ID card that is not more than 60 days expired at the time of voting, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card or a U.S citizenship certificate with a photo.