A federal court panel has struck down a Texas voter ID law similar to one enacted in Pennsylvania on grounds that the Texas law might interfere with the voting rights of minorities.
The ruling is a moral victory for critics of the Pennsylvania law, but probably one without legal impact.
Vic Walczak, counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union which challenged Pennsylvania’s law, said the evidence developed in the Texas and Pennsylvania cases about the number of voters without ID was similar, but the legal standards are different.
Because of an established history of past discrimination, the federal Voting Rights Act requires that any changes in voting procedures in Texas come under special scrutiny from the Justice Department.
“The bottom line is that the state of Texas had to show that the law would have no discriminatory effect and they were simply unable to do that,” Walczak said.
Because Pennsylvania doesn’t face the special Voting Rights Act review, plaintiffs challenging its law have to prove it would impose an unconstitutional burden on voters.
Walczak and his co-plaintiffs thought they did that in a lengthy court hearing a month ago, but Judge Robert Simpson turned down their motion to block implementation of the law.
Ron Ruman, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, maintains the Pennsylvania law is on solid legal footing. The State Supreme Court takes the case up in September.