A panel of federal judges Thursday rejected Texas’ strict photo identification law in a big victory for voting rights groups that have challenged similar laws around the country.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia determined that the law — which requires voters to present a valid photo ID issued by the state of Texas or the federal government at the polls in order to vote — would disproportionately affect low-income and minority voters.
“The State of Texas enacted a voter ID law that — at least to our knowledge — is the most stringent in the country,” the decision reads. “That law will almost certainly have retrogressive effect: it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty.”
Texas is one of a handful of states that requires pre-clearance by the Justice Department under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Justice Department raised concerns about the law in March, and state officials filed suit against DOJ in federal court.
The Texas law is one of a handful of strict voting rights laws that have been passed by Republican-led legislatures around the country. Heading into a close election, voting rights groups had voiced concerns that, particularly in swing states, new laws could help disenfranchise millions and even potentially sway the election results.
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