Two key court decisions striking down photo ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin could help nearly 1 million registered voters this November.
Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked implementation of Wisconsin’s photo ID law. Yesterday, a federal judge also struck down Texas’s strict photo ID requirement, finding it creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, impermissibly discriminates against minorities, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose. (The Brennan Center was part of the legal team representing plaintiffs in the Texas case.)
Combined, the two laws could have made it harder for nearly 1 million registered voters to cast ballots.
In the Texas case, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found approximately 608,470 registered voters do not have the required ID. In April, a separate judge found approximately 300,000 registered voters lacked the required ID in Wisconsin.
“This is a tremendous victory that could help nearly 1 million voters in two key states,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “This is what courts should be doing, blocking controversial voting changes before an election. Harm cannot be undone once an election happens. Courts must stop politicians from manipulating voting rules for their own gain.”
“These two decisions will eliminate unnecessary and discriminatory barriers to the ballot box for hundreds of thousands of Americans,” added Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Democracy Program. “Elections in Texas and Wisconsin will now be more free, fair, and accessible than they were a year ago.”
The two rulings come as many Americans face an ever-shifting voting landscape before heading to the polls this November. Texas and Wisconsin are two of seven states with major lawsuits challenging voting restrictions ahead of the 2014 election. Since the 2010 election, new restrictions are slated to be in place in 22 states. With the Texas ID law blocked, 14 states will now have new restrictions in place for the first time this year.
See all of the Brennan Center’s Election 2014 resources.
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