Monday, April 10, 2017
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A judge ruled for a second time Monday that Texas' strict voter ID law was intentionally crafted to discriminate against minorities, which follows another court finding evidence of racial gerrymandering in how Republican lawmakers drew the state's election maps.
The latest ruling by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi comes more than two years after she likened the ballot-box rules in Texas, known as SB 14, to a "poll tax" meant to suppress minority voters. She is still holding to that conclusion after an appeals court asked her to go back and re-examine her findings.
"Proponents touted SB 14 as a remedy for voter fraud, consistent with efforts of other states. As previously demonstrated, the evidence shows a tenuous relationship between those rationales and the actual terms of the bill," Gonzales Ramos wrote.
The Texas law requires voters to show one of seven forms of identification at the ballot box. That list includes concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs. A court forced Texas last year to provide more flexibility under the law for the November elections.
State officials did not immediately react to the ruling, although Texas could once again appeal.
Gonzales Ramos' decision follows a ruling from a separate three-judge panel in San Antonio last month that found problems in Texas' voting rights laws. The panel found that Republicans racially gerrymandered some congressional districts to weaken the growing electoral power of minorities. The GOP-controlled Texas Legislature approved the maps in 2011, the same year then-Gov. Rick Perry signed a voter ID law.