Two recent federal court rulings on voter ID laws are victories for minorities and democracy.
In North Carolina, a federal ruling resulted in throwing out a voter identification law that the three-judge panel said was designed to discriminate against minorities. The state was also found to have not only discriminated against minorities, but passed tougher election rules with the intent on doing so.
In 2013, the Republican-led government in North Carolina passed a wide-ranging law that cut the number of days for early voting and eliminated same-day registrations and out-of-precinct voting. The statute also required people to show a photo ID before voting took effect with the March primary elections. Republicans said the law was designed to prevent voter fraud.
In Texas, officials agreed Wednesday to modify their voter ID law, which federal courts have said discriminated against minorities and the poor, and left more than 600,000 registered voters potentially unable to cast a ballot.
The state is working to making changes to the law before November’s election, moving from requiring voters to show one of seven forms of suitable ID — a list that included concealed handgun permits, but not college IDs — to letting those without such an ID to sign an affidavit that will allow them to cast an official ballot.
Texas must also spend at least $2.5 million on voter outreach before November, according to the agreement submitted to U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who must still approve the changes.
In North Dakota’s voter identification requirements are on hold after a federal judge sided with a group of American Indians who said the law unfairly burdens them.
Several other states have had election rules sidelined for the coming fall election. In addition to the North Carolina law that required photo identification, federal courts loosened a similar measure in Wisconsin and halted strict citizenship requirements in Kansas.
These changes come as judges across the U.S. are blocking several Republican-controlled states from imposing stricter election rules in November.
While some Republican state officials have not ruled out eventually going to the U.S. Supreme, the federal rulings are critical safeguards for voters, especially poor and minority.