[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Saturday allowed [order, PDF] Texas [official website] to enforce a strict 2011 voter identification law [SB 14] requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The court provided no reasoning in its order, which will be in effect for November’s general elections. Early voting in the state begins [state voting schedule] this Monday. Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, dissented, arguing that the law provides Texas with the strictest voter ID regime in the US and will affect a disproportionate percentage of African-American and Hispanic voters. Voters will be required [state voting rules] to to present one of a limited number of government-issued photo ID documents. Texas officials assert the law is necessary to prevent fraud and to increase public confidence in the electoral process.
Texas is one of dozens of US states litigating contentious voter ID laws over the past several years. On Thursday the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] that state’s voter ID law finding it unconstitutional. The law required ID in the form of a voter ID card or a document or ID card showing the voter’s name and photo issued by the US, the state of Arkansas, or an accredited postsecondary educational institution in Arkansas. Last week the Supreme Court temporarily blocked [JURIST report] Wisconsin from enforcing its voter ID laws as a result of an emergency request filed by voter advocacy groups. In August a judge for the US District Court Middle District of North Carolina [official website] rejected [JURIST report] preliminary relief in the form of an injunction against a new voter law in North Carolina requiring voters to show a picture ID at the polls by 2016. In May Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced [JURIST report] that the state’s Office of General Counsel will not pursue an appeal in defense of the state’s voter ID law requiring all voters to submit a government-issued photo ID in order to vote in all elections. A recent nonpartisan congressional study [JURIST report] shows that states that have toughened their voter ID laws have experienced steeper drops in election turnout than those that have not, including disproportionate falloffs among blacks and young voters