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Discriminatory Texas Voter ID Law Struck Down by U.S. Appeals Court

Discriminatory Texas Voter ID Law Struck Down by U.S. Appeals Court

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit struck down a portion of a Texas law that required voters to present specific types of government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot, citing it in violation of the Voting Rights Act. According to the court, demanding voters to present such identification would not only cause electoral discrimination — which would overwhelmingly affect minority men and women — it was intentionally designed to be discriminatory.

"The record shows that drafters and proponents of [the law] were aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities, and that they nonetheless passed the bill without adopting a number of proposed ameliorative measures that might have lessened this impact," Judge Catharina Haynes wrote in her ruling.

Though the ruling does not nullify the entire piece of legislation, it does offer major relief to individuals who were prohibited from voting because they did not have a government-issued ID. This portion of the law was intended to keep African American and Latino voters — who might not possess the U.S. passports, U.S. citizenship certificates, military IDs, drivers licenses, or concealed handgun carry permits that qualified as approved identification-from participating in the electoral process. With Thursday's ruling, the 5th Circuit Court has now dictated that a lower court needs to revise this portion of the law and create a solution that opens the elector process to those who were previously barred from doing so.

Members of the Texas government, however, were not entirely in favor of Wednesday's decision. Both Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed that the legislation was necessary to prevent voter fraud, and criticized the court's decision to strike down what they called a "common-sense" measure.

Texas now has the opportunity to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court and keep this portion of the law in place. But with only eight justices currently sitting on the bench, it is improbable that the measure would be upheld. More likely, an even 4-4 split between justices would uphold the 5th Circuit Court ruling if the Court does not officially rule to strike down this portion of the law.

Though the lower court now must revamp this legislation, how it will do so — and whether these measures will successfully be in place before the November election — is undetermined.

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