With Election Day just months away, two federal courts delivered victories to voting rights advocates in Texas and Wisconsin in a legal struggle with racial dimensions.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that a Texas voter ID law discriminates against African-Americans and Hispanics, which violates the Voting Rights Act, NBC News reports.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised the court’s ruling in a statement.
“This decision affirms our position that Texas’s highly restrictive voter ID law abridges the right to vote on account of race or color and orders appropriate relief before yet another election passes,” she said.
The ruling affects approximately 600,000 Texas residents — most of them people of color — who don’t have a government photo ID.
However, the panel of judges did not strike down the law. The justices said the law has a discriminatory effect, but rejected the argument that it does so intentionally.
Consequently, the appeals court told the district court, which heard the case, to find ways for voters without a proper ID to cast a ballot. One way is to have them sign an affidavit before voting.
Meanwhile, a federal district court judge in Milwaukee issued a similar preliminary ruling on Tuesday that will permit Wisconsin residents who lack a government ID to vote if they sign an affidavit affirming their identity, The Hill reported.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said that most Wisconsin voters either have the required ID or can get one easily. But there must be “a safety net” for other eligible voters.
Adelman added that the affidavit approach is a “sensible” way to prevent disenfranchisement while maintaining the “integrity” of the election process for the upcoming presidential election.
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