District Court Rules Texas Voter Id Law Unconstitutional
Last Thursday, October 9, 2014: Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos of the U.S. District Court ruled Texas’ Voter Photo ID Law unconstitutional, citing it was nothing more than a poll tax. Ramos agreed with civil rights groups and the Justice Department, which challenged the law, that black and Hispanic voters are more likely to lack the specific kinds of identification that Texas requires and would have more trouble than white voters in securing them. She accepted the estimate that more than 600,000 registered voters lack proper ID, a figure that Texas disputes.
True to form, Texas’ Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for Governor, filed to overturn Judge Ramos’ ruling
In a pre-dawn ruling today, Saturday, October 18, 2014, SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the United States) ruled that Texas could proceed with its strict Voter ID Law, despite the lower court’s ruling the law unconstitutional. Dissenting Justice were Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. “The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote. But Ginsburg said the court had shirked its duty, since a district court after a full trial had said the law was written with discriminatory intent and could keep an estimated 600,000 registered voters from casting ballots.
Attorney Michael Li, an expert on redistricting and Texas Election Law, stated the SCOTUS’ ruling will be appealed on the merits on the law and further stated that on November 4 any Texan that is not allowed to vote even upon proof of identity with one of the 7 forms outlined in SB 14 should file a provisional ballot and report the incident to the elections officials, poll watchers, County Democratic Party officials, Texas’ Secretary of State and the Texas Democratic Party.