Federal Court Ruled Against Texas Voter ID Law

Texas Governor Rick Perry says we can chalk up another victory to fraud after a federal court struck down a voter id law passed by lawmakers last year. The next stop is the Supreme Court as Texas tries to push through a controversial new voting law.

Updated at 5:30 p.m.A three-judge panel called the Texas voter ID law "strict" and "unforgiving". Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who tested the law in federal court instead of the Justice Department for so-called "pre-clearance", will now see how the Supreme Court views the issue. State Representative Garnet Coleman says it was pretty clear from the start what the law was all about.

"The reality is these laws were passed to affect this election. That's why Florida passed a very similar law and passed laws that changed the way we register voters. All these things come together to actually limit people from accessing the ballot box."

Texas is a Voting Rights Act state, one of only a handful that require federal approval before voting laws are changed. Opponents of the Texas Law say poor minority voters who might have a hard time getting ID's are the ones most affected by the Texas law. Mark Jones is the Chair of the Political Science Department at Rice University and says the situation in Texas isn't the same as in other states, like Indiana, that do have voter ID laws in place.

"One-third of Texas counties don't even have a DPS office. Unlike in Indiana as well, our offices aren't open on Saturdays and even in major urban areas like Houston we don't have a single DPS office inside the 610 loop and those which do exist are not particularly accessible via mass transit and a large number of the people who need these IDs don't drive, either because of their age or because they don't own a car."
 
We tried to contact the head of the Republican Caucus in the Texas Legislature and the head of the Harris County Republican Party, but didn't hear back.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...