Rulings may make voter ID laws presidential race nonfactors

The court ruling nearly certainly won't be enough for Democrat Hillary Clinton to win fiercely conservative Texas in November, and Wisconsin has been reliably blue enough in recent presidential cycles that the legal setback for its voter ID law may not prove decisive, either.

Federal courts have reined in strict voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin, while a legal battle in North Carolina continues to rage over its election rules.

The trial court had ruled that the law discriminated against minorities because they are more likely to be poor than other citizens and face more obstacles in obtaining proper ID.

The U.S. Department of Justice brought one of the lawsuits against the Texas voting law, under former Attorney General Eric Holder.

The court decision Wednesday came after a three-judge panel ruled a year ago that the law violated the Voting Rights Act, and Texas appealed. Charles Perry, a co-author of his state's law.

The court also asked the lower courts to change the law so that the coming electoral process is affected "as little as possible" without the discrimination element, making it easier for people to vote.

Ross wouldn't speculate on the fix Texas will use to get through the November election but said a "serious look" is being taken at how the Wisconsin judge approved voters signing affidavits. Backers of these laws have said they are necessary to prevent voter fraud. Those forms include a USA military ID, a birth certificate, a passport or a concealed carry permit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But prior to this week the measures in only nine — including Texas and Wisconsin — were considered especially restrictive.

The decision could also have even broader ramifications: Aside from fixing the law for now, the court also ordered a later re-evaluation of whether Texas' Republican-controlled Legislature intentionally discriminated against minorities in pursuing the law. Seven of the court's 15 judges signed the ruling, with two others mostly in agreement, but there were six dissents.

Rick Hasen, law professor at the University of California at Irvine, says both the decision to hear the case and the ruling came as a surprise.

"This decision will thus foster cynicism about the courts and more rather than less racial tension". These include a driver's license, military ID, passport, gun permit, citizenship certificate with photo, but not a tribal or college student ID. Wednesday's decision came after a three-judge panel ruled a year ago that the law violated the Voting Rights Act, and Texas appealed. They said any inconveniences or costs involved in getting one do not substantially burden the right to vote, and that the Justice Department and other plaintiffs had failed to prove that the law resulted in denying anyone that right. A court filing by the American Civil Liberties Union cited testimony in other voter ID states indicating numerous difficulties faced by people, including burdensome travel and expenses to get required documentation to obtain IDs.

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