A federal judge equated Texas’ strict voter ID requirement to a poll tax deliberately meant to suppress voters of color and struck it down less than a month before election day. The verdict came just a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a similar measure in Wisconsin.
The twin rulings released Thursday evening represent major and somewhat surprising blows to largely Republican-backed voter identification rules that generally have been upheld in previous rulings nationwide.
Approved in 2011, Texas’ law is considered among the nation’s harshest and had even been derided in court by the Justice Department as blatant discrimination. Wisconsin’s law was passed the same year and has remained a similar political flashpoint.
“We are extremely heartened by the court’s decision, which affirms our position that the Texas voter identification law unfairly and unnecessarily restricts access to the franchise,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “We are also pleased that the Supreme Court has refused to allow Wisconsin to implement its own restrictive voter identification law.”
The timing of the Texas ruling could spare an estimated 13.6 million registered voters in the state from needing photo identification to cast a ballot.
According to the Justice Department, more than 600,000 of those voters, mostly blacks and Latinos, currently do not have proper ID to vote.
Regarding Wisconsin’s voter ID law, the Supreme Court used a one-page order to grant an emergency stay requested by the American Civil Liberties Union. It also blocked implementation of Wisconsin’s voter ID law — overturning a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week.
Advocates in the state have 90 days to file a formal petition for the Supreme Court to hear their appeal of the ruling.
Finally a breakthrough regarding the fight for equal voting rights for all Americans.
Sound off below!