Voter ID Laws Blocked In Texas, Wisconsin
Justice Department still leading the charge against voter suppression tactics
Advocates of the ban on restrictive voting laws have a pair of new victories to celebrate this week.
On Monday, the Obama administration continued its effort to stop a spur of state voter ID laws, by blocking a Texas law it deemed harmful to Latinos. In Wisconsin, a state judge ruled its law “unconstitutionally burbens the rights of eligble (voters),” Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
In both cases, the laws required government-issued identification for admittance to polling stations. Republican officials in both states argued the laws were needed to combat voter fraud, although proponents have not been able to produce much evidence that the threat exists.
Governors Rick Perry and Scott Walker – one a failed presidential candidate and the other facing a bitter recall election – signed the state voter ID last year. In Texas, Perry and his administration could not satisfy a Justice Department request to show the law would not discriminate against Latino voters.
In Wisconsin, circuit court judge Richard Niess characterized the law in his ruling this way:
“Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed they are two heads on the same monster.”
Niess is the second judge to strike down the Wisconsin law. The state's attorney general is expected to appeal the decision.
By most estimates, new voter ID laws will disproportionately affect minorities, seniors and young people.
Of the 31 states currently requiring some form of ID at polling places, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Texas have the strictest laws. There are 19 states that do not require ID at police places.
Civil rights activist contend the voter rights issue should remain an actionable priority during the 2012 election cycle. Last week, Rev. Al Sharpton ended a five-day re-enactment of the Selma to Montgomery march with a speech calling for the repeal of harsh voter ID and immigration laws. Sharpton questioned the timing of the new laws, in light of the approaching re-election campaign for the nation's first African American commander-in-chief.