Texas’ latest voter ID law discriminates against minority voters, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, permanently blocking the law — and delivering yet another legal blow to Republican lawmakers, who have spent years trying to tighten the state’s voting requirements.
The new law “perpetuates the selection of types of ID most likely to be possessed by Anglo voters and, disproportionately, not possessed by Hispanics and African-Americans,” wrote U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in her ruling.
Texas legislators passed the voter ID law earlier this year, following a string of court rulings over the state’s 2011 voter ID law, which accepted just six forms of ID, the strictest in the nation. That law, the courts ruled, not only had a disproportionate effect on black and Latino voters — it was actually enacted to intentionally discriminate against minorities.
The new 2017 voter ID law didn’t expand Texas’ list of acceptable forms of identification, but would have allowed people without those IDs to cast a ballot if they signed an affidavit and brought paperwork showing their name and address.
The U.S. Justice Department, which opposed the Texas voter ID law under President Barack Obama, supported those changes. In a stunningly public reversal, it even filed a brief supporting the state, arguing that the new law “eradicates any discriminatory effect or intent” the old version might’ve had.
Judge Ramos disagreed. “There is no legitimate reason” to make would-be voters sign an affidavit explaining why they couldn’t get the right forms of ID, she wrote in her ruling. “Requiring a voter to address more issues than necessary under penalty of perjury and enhancing that threat by making the crime a state jail felony appear to be efforts at voter intimidation.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to appeal Ramos’ decision up to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, saying in a statement, “Today’s ruling is outrageous. The U.S. Department of Justice is satisfied that the amended voter ID law has no discriminatory purpose or effect. Safeguarding the integrity of elections in Texas is essential to preserving our democracy.”