AUSTIN, Texas — A judge Monday again ruled that Republican lawmakers deliberately designed a strict voter ID law to disadvantage minorities and effectively dampen their growing electoral power.
It amounted to the second finding of intentional discrimination in Texas election laws in as many months — a separate court in March ruled that Republicans racially gerrymandered several congressional districts when drawing voting maps in 2011, the same year the voter ID rules were passed.
Neither ruling has any immediate impact. But the decisions are significant because it raises the possibility of Texas being stripped of the right to unilaterally change its election laws without federal approval. Forcing Texas to once again seek federal permission — known as “preclearance” — has been a goal of Democrats and minority rights groups since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the requirement in 2013.
The latest voter ID ruling by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi comes more than two years after she likened the ballot-box rules in Texas, known as SB 14, to a “poll tax” meant to suppress minority voters. On Monday, she reaffirmed that conclusion after an appeals court asked her to go back and re-examine her findings.