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Federal Court Blocks Controversial Texas Voter ID Law

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A federal court in Washington ruled on Thursday that a Texas Voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act, effectively blocking the law from taking effect.

The unanimous three judge district court ruled, “The State of Texas enacted a voter ID law that — at least to our knowledge — is the most stringent in the country.  That law will almost certainly have retrogressive effect: it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty.”

In the weeks leading up to the election, the law — passed by a Republican-led Texas legislature — has gained particular attention as supporters said it was meant to protect voter integrity, while critics claimed it would lead to voter suppression. The Voter ID law requires people voting in person to provide certain government-issued photo IDs when they come to the polls.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released a statement Thursday vowing to appeal the decision. “The Supreme Court of the United States has already upheld Voter ID laws as a constitutional method of ensuring integrity at the ballot box. Today’s decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana – and were upheld by the Supreme Court. The State will appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we are confident we will prevail.”

The law was passed in 2011, but was subject to approval by federal officials as required by the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Section 5 of the VRA requires certain jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination to “pre-clear” any changes to voting laws with the Department of Justice or a federal Court in Washington. Covered jurisdictions include 9 states and parts of 7 additional states.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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