Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law

A federal judge on Wednesday tossed out a new law that softened Texas’ voter ID requirements. The judge ruled that the Legislature’s attempt to revise and soften the law did not excuse the state for discriminating against minority voters.

Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas previously found the state’s original law was passed with the intent of discriminating against Hispanics and blacks. The law, one of the strictest in the nation, required voters to present a government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or driver’s license, before voting.

In response to legal challenges, the State Legislature softened the law by allowing potential voters to sign an affidavit and present a different form of ID, such as a utility bill.

In the latest ruling, Ramos said the revision still did not allow voters to use federal or state employee cards as a form of ID.

“SB 5 does not meaningfully expand the types of photo IDs that can qualify, even though the Court was clearly critical of Texas having the most restrictive list in the country,” Ramos wrote. “Not one of the discriminatory features of [the old law] is fully ameliorated by the terms of SB 5.”

Ramos also stated in her ruling that Texas cannot be trusted to educate its voters on change to the law. The state was widely criticized for its educational efforts ahead of the 2016 election.

Ramos’ ruling may mean that voters no longer have to show a photo ID at the polls in Texas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has vowed to appeal the decision.

“Today’s ruling is outrageous,” Paxton said. “Senate Bill 5 was passed by the people’s representatives and includes all changes to the Texas voter ID law requested by the 5th Circuit.”