Federal court strikes down Texas voter ID law
August 30th, 2012
04:35 PM ET

Federal court strikes down Texas voter ID law

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer

Washington (CNN) - A federal appeals court in Washington Thursday struck down the Texas voter ID law requiring photos for voters at the polls, calling it racially discriminatory.

The decision is a major victory for the Obama administration and its Democratic allies, which had challenged the law.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott promptly announced the state will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry signed the voter ID measure into law last year, but it had yet not gone into effect because the federal Voting Rights Act requires changes in Texas voting laws to be pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department.

Attorney General Eric Holder denied the pre-clearance of the measure in March, concluding that Texas failed to show the law will not have "the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race."

The three-judge panel agreed.

Although the law provides for approved voter registration certificates with no photo as acceptable for voting in certain circumstances, the court said the law imposes "strict unforgiving burdens on the poor." The court noted the requirements will fall heavily on African-Americans and Hispanics, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the poor in Texas.

The panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia also said it was ruling only on the Texas law, and not issuing a statement about other state voting laws. It noted the Justice Department had approved a Georgia voter ID law in which the state promised to provide free photo ID cards to citizens who request them.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Discrimination • How we live • Politics • Race • Where we live
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. lj

    You shouldn't need an id. You have to register to vote. You have to vote at your poling place. They mark down when you vote. It's hard on the poor and elderly. For many of us it's simple to have an id. But if you don't drive and don't have much money it's a bigger chore to get to some place where you can get an id. Even if the id is free. Especially if you are working poor and also have to take time off from work to do it.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • RV

      You darn right it's not so easy to get a photo ID. My daughter is 17 and we went to get her driving permit. I found out firsthand what it is like. I lost her social security card so they would not let her get her permit because she could not provide 2 utility bills with her name on them in place of the SS Card. Really? She is under 18, I have her birth certificate, my social security card, 2 utility bills with my name in my possession and they won't let me sign an affidavit for her residency?

      Thank God I don't have as much trouble voting! With a voter registration card and my name on the list at the polling place, I can exercise my right to vote. I am a nurse case manager who has seen plenty of poor, elderly people and homeless people who can't get to the store to get their prescriptions or transportation in rural areas. This is a real problem for them. Not to mention the expense. In a state where it passed, the legislature offered the I.D.'s for free.

      Besides, I am hoping that most people can see this for what it is – discrimination -pure and simple. This is nothing but a tactic to keep the hispanics and blacks from voting so another election can be stolen.

      October 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. USAFA74

    Let me get this right. I need to have some form of photo ID to buy liquor or a gun, apply for food stamps, rent a car, or cash a check. But I don't need one to vote? What's wrong with this picture? As for the cost....you are telling me that those less fortunate economically cannot afford the cost of an ID. Even a homeless person can scrap up enough money for beer and cigarettes, so maybe, just maybe, those other economically deprived individuals can budget for an ID rather than finding money for lottery tickets, candy/cokes, cigarettes, alcohol, or heaven forbid – church donations.
    We'll abide by court rulings, but I can understand why people are concerned about federal government dictating to states what they can and cannot do. Let other states attempt to deal with the various issues that CA, AZ, and TX have to deal with and then we'll talk some more.

    September 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ComeOnMan9

    I really don't see the racism in this one. Okay if you want to go by the letter of law for poll tax, I guess but you got to have an ID for everything else in the world. How in the he ll is this racist. I am black please explain it slowly to me because I don't get it.

    September 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Viltor

      First is the intent. Since there is no evidence (not one case) of voter fraud in Texas one has the right to challenge the motivation for the law.

      Second is the effect. Since over 90% of the people who will vote have voted in prior elections without evidence of fraud the effect would be to deny voters who have been voting legally the right to vote.

      Third racial and impact. If a law that does nothing but reduce the number of people who can vote disproportionately effects one group, one has the right to call it discriminatory. Since every state that has passed these did so in the last two years and only in states where republicans rule it seems to me the burden of proof-of-need should be on them.

      Fourth it is a poll tax. People who do not drive will have to spend money to get the proper ID to vote.

      September 4, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bob Fields

    If poor people can figure how to spend their food stamps they should be able to figure how to get a photo ID. If they can't figure how to get a photo ID they are too DUMB to vote.

    September 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Who said these people were on food stamps? There are poor people in the country that do work and can afford to buy food, and they can vote. They might not have the cash and time to drive hundreds of miles to get a photo ID. Yes, hundred of miles as the judges observed there are multiple rural counties in Texas that don't have D.P.S. offices, and remember there are some counties in Texas bigger than other states.

      September 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • BeezNeez

        How are they driving then?

        Talk about failed logic.

        September 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Eric

        Actually, you point out even how much more difficult it is. Yes, many of these people don't own cars, which is why they don't have a driver's license. They use public transit (not much of that in Texas, but some), get rides from others, etc.

        September 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KatieS

    In the past month, I have had to show photo I.D. to get a library card, donate blood, and apply for a license for my dog. Yet I can vote with nothing but my word that I am who I say I am. Ridiculous!

    September 3, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
    • fatal42

      The Great State of Texas needs to tell the Feds. shove it where the sun don't shine !!!
      Then do what the people of TEXAS wants done !!!!

      September 3, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
      • Gerry

        Count me in!

        September 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. irene

    super pacs that rig elections should have to show id, but thanks to the Supreme Court, we're going after the little guy again so that the rich can have their power shored up even more!

    September 3, 2012 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. NotMe

    Hello, my name is President Obama. I'd like to vote for candidate Romney. You don't need identification right?

    September 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gomez_Addams

    OK, then I don't need a photo-Id or driver license to rent a car. The entire basis of this is well within the law and these cry babies need to get off their duff, go to a local or state government office and get a photo-id issued, period. Or maybe, many of these inhabitants that need id’s are ILLEGAL ALIENS? Nah, that couldn't be?

    September 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

      September 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • Brian

        Exactly. Now show proof that you are a citizen of these United States and your rights will not be infringed. Acceptable forms of proof include US passport, state issued driver license, or state issued identification card. Each has a photo on it.

        September 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • Eric

        I show citizenship with my Certificate of Birth issued by the U.S. State Department when I was born in Germany to my U.S. citizen parents when my dad was serving in the U.S. Air Force. It has no photo on it. If it did, you probably wouldn't recognize me today based on it. I used that when I got my SS card, also no photo.

        September 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TJeff1776

    It may appear logical enough BUT IF it comes from one of those silver-tongued conservatives better dissect it because something will be hidden somewhere.

    September 2, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. 22X Richer

    Appointed judges are partisan hacks. To see racism in a law which requires identification can only be partisan politics. What does race have to do with requiring identification?

    September 2, 2012 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      One appointed by Bush, one by Clinton, one by Obama in this case.

      September 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Texmaster

    The thing that really depresses me about all these voter disenfranchisement efforts is that the right knows full well that they are not about preventing voter fraud. They know that it's an underhanded, Machiavellian means of taking away one of the most fundamental American rights from a group of people who tend to vote in a way they don't like.

    There is an extraordinary lack of honor in it.

    When Republicans don't like the way Americans vote, they want to change the way Americans vote.

    It's as simple as that.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cwbingham

    Beside voter IDs, we should require voters to pass a basic test to indicate they aren't complete idiots. Hamilton's fears have come true.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Literacy tests were eliminated by the 1965 voter rights act.

      September 2, 2012 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
      • cwbingham

        You stated a fact. How about your opinion? Maybe we should let teenagers vote too?

        September 2, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • fatal42

      You can't do that , then you would eliminate the entire Democatic Party !!!

      September 2, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Richard B Long

    Why should an individual state have the ability to enact laws that effect a NATIONAL election......????

    September 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • odk1

      am all for federal gov. protecting voting right, i personally don't trust states level period.

      September 4, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. maria

    check and balance in this administration can no longer be implemented because it becomes a race issue !!! and you americans can't do anything to stop this?

    September 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. athensGuy

    legal aliens also have drivers licenses. so you think DLs would suffice to prove citizenship?

    September 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Justme

    Political drivel. Texas is trying to make sure only American's vote. The democrats want illegals to vote, because they vote overwhelmingly democratic. This root of self-promotion for power at all costs is an infection that, left untreated will seriously weaken American. The end affect is that any major upheaval could cause us to fall due to the damage wrought by increasing degradation to American society. I am not saying Hispanics are bad. I am saying that the way they are being incorporated into our society is bad on both the lawmakers side and the illegals side. In short, the rule of law is being put aside for self advancement at any cost.

    September 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      Illegals can't vote. Feel free to list any instance you can find of illegals voting.
      We'll not hold our breath....

      September 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
      • joe

        Fred, the correct statement should be "Illegals can't vote LEGALLY"

        How this is discriminatory is beyond me.

        Call it what it is, BS by the Feds

        September 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • odk1

      if you meet any illegal immigrant you will know that the last thing in their mind is trying to vote on national election. we all know these is not about illegal voting, is rather discaurage some citizen from execise their voting right.

      September 4, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  17. Bob B

    In Ct. they just ask for your drivers license. If you don't have a drivers license, you should have a photo license of some kind that is official.

    September 1, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      I've had nasty spam before and terckad down the IP address and sent a nice reply back. It's not always possible to use this method though as some hide behind numbers but I think this kind of behavior is unacceptable.Over the years the web has introduced lots of good but on the flip side has allowed lots of bad to invade our personal spaces.Maybe The Karma police will get them in the end.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Raymond

    I think the timing of this request is a bit suspect ............ But, anything to win huh

    September 1, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  19. fatal42

    If you are against vote ID , you MUST condone voter FRAUD , plain and simple no other discussion!!!!!

    September 1, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • athensGuy


      September 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      Sure, because it's SO RAMPANT there have been like FIVE cases in American history, right?
      This is an unnecessary law. Aren't conservatives supposed to be AGAINST unnecessary law?
      OH, unless it JUST SO HAPPENS to make it harder for non-conservatives to vote, right?

      September 3, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davy

      I tell my teen & her friends to send chain spam to me when they get them . I have no qaulms about using the big finger of delete Frac is right that they do get worried about will happen if they don't pass them on.. so this is a soluion for them

      September 16, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  20. miscreantsall

    The IDs should be free!

    So, what's the problem now?

    September 1, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Bingo!!!! It's about the $$$. My state has an ID that resembles a drivers license *and costs* the same (expiration included)

      September 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • bptsj

      None; thats why the article said a similar law in another state was allowed because, if asked for, they could receive free ID cards. The Texas law is a ruse to prevent some poor people from voting because they can't afford to buy and ID card.

      September 3, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |