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Judge halts anti-voter registration laws


Still the only voter ID anyone should need

U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of Galveston ruled that a law that prohibits third-party voter registrars from working in more than one county and another that mandates registrars in Texas be residents of the state violate the First Amendment.

“During the 2011 legislative session, the Governor signed two bills that imposed a number of additional requirements,” U.S. District Judge Greg Costa wrote in his 94-page opinion. “The result is that Texas now imposes more burdensome regulations on those engaging in third-party voter registration than the vast majority of, if not all, other states.”

The judge also struck down provisions that required deputy voter registrars be paid hourly, that prevented registration certificates from being photocopied and that prohibited completed forms from being mailed in to elections officials. A final judgment must still be rendered, Costa declared. Until then, the laws cannot be enforced.

More from the Chron:

“Today’s ruling means that community groups and organizations like Voting for America and Project Vote will be able to run community voter registration drives in Texas,” plaintiff’s attorney Chad Dunn said. “These drives are important to reaching the millions of Texans, including three-quarters of a million African-Americans and 2 million Latinos, who are eligible but still not registered to vote.”

Dunn represents two Galveston County residents and the nonprofit voter registration group Voting for America, an affiliate of the nonpartisan Project Vote based in Washington, D.C.

“They don’t care how you vote as long as you get registered and participate,” Dunn said.


The plaintiffs had asked Costa to block eight sections of the law enacted in 2011 so that they could register voters before the national election in November. Costa declined to block enforcement of laws that make it a criminal offense for a deputy registrar to submit a partially completed form, a restrictive training requirement, and a requirement that deputy registrars wear an identification badge. He left the legality of those laws to be decided at trial.

Dunn said the attorney general could appeal the injunction to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Dunn, who has represented Democrats in redistricting lawsuits, said the Legislature’s redistricting plan, photo identification bill and registration requirements are evidence of voter suppression.

“This Legislature will do anything to prevent Texans from voting,” Dunn said.

See here for some background, and see Ballot Access News for more on the decision, which you can read in full here. This is just an injunction preventing these laws from being enforced until there’s a final ruling, but it’s still a very big deal. These laws were petty little attempts to make it harder for people to vote. They served no other purpose. The fact that they flew so completely under the radar is a sign of just how atrocious the last legislative session was, and of how many mind-bendingly bad things they did. They got the treatment they deserved from Judge Costa. I’m sure there will be an appeal – there’s already been a motion for a stay of the injunction – because neither Rick Perry nor Greg Abbott can accept that they might be wrong about something, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. This was a good ruling, and we should be happy about it. Texas Redistricting has more.

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  1. […] here and here for the background. I’d link to Judge Costa’s order, but the Southern District […]