A federal court on Thursday blocked a Texas law that would have required voters to show photo identification, ruling that the legislation would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens” on poor minority voters.
Describing the law as the most stringent in the country, the unanimous decision by a three-judge panel marks the first time that a federal court has blocked a voter ID law. It will reverberate politically through the November elections. Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over whether tough voter ID laws in a number of states discriminate against African Americans and Hispanics.
The panel at the U.S. District Court in Washington ruled that Texas had failed to show that the statute would not harm the voting rights of minorities in the state. In addition, the judges found that evidence indicated that the cost of obtaining a photo ID to vote would fall most heavily on African American and Hispanic voters.
Evidence submitted by Texas to prove that its law did not discriminate was “unpersuasive, invalid, or both,” wrote David S. Tatel, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who wrote the panel’s 56-page opinion.