AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge Wednesday again threw out Texas’ voter ID requirements that she previously compared to a “poll tax” on minorities, dealing another court setback to state Republican leaders over voting rights.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos rejected a weakened version of the law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year. The new version didn’t expand the list of acceptable photo identifications — meaning gun licenses remained sufficient proof to vote, but not college student IDs.
But the changes would allow people who lack a required ID to cast a ballot if they signed an affidavit and brought paperwork that showed their name and address, such as a bank statement or utility bill. The new version was supported by the U.S. Justice Department, which once opposed the law but has reversed its position since President Donald Trump took office.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the ruling “outrageous” and said an appeals court should void the ruling.
“The U.S. Department of Justice is satisfied that the amended voter ID law has no discriminatory purpose or effect. Safeguarding the integrity of elections in Texas is essential to preserving our democracy,” Paxton said in a statement.
Texas has spent years fighting to preserve both the voter ID law — which was among the strictest in the U.S. — and voting maps that were both passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2011. Earlier this month, a separate federal court found racial gerrymandering in Texas’ congressional maps and ordered voting districts to be partially redrawn before the 2018 elections.