In a brief, one paragraph order handed down Thursday evening, the Supreme Court just halted Wisconsin’s voter ID law. Although a federal trial court halted the law earlier this year, a conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reinstated it last month. Under Thursday’s order from the Supreme Court, the voter ID law will now almost certainly be suspended for the 2014 election, although the order does not indicate whether the justices are likely to strike the law down permanently at a later date.
It also got through to a federal court in Texas. Via NBC:
A federal judge has struck down a Texas voter ID law, saying the requirement that all voters show photo identification before casting a ballot amounted to a “poll tax” designed to suppress voter turnout among minorities.
U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos wrote in an opinion released Thursday evening that “There has been a clear and disturbing pattern of discrimination in the name of combatting voter fraud in Texas,” and that the state hadn’t demonstrated that such fraud was widespread.
Gonzales said the evidence showed the proponents of the law “were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law’s detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.”
According to the GAO, it’s working. Steve Benen:
As part of the research, GAO scholars “compared election turnout in Kansas and Tennessee – which tightened voter ID requirements between the 2008 and 2012 elections – to voting in four states that didn’t change their identification requirements.”
Not surprisingly, the research found that voter turnout dropped in the states that imposed tighter restrictions. What’s more, as Jay Bookman noted, the “decline was among ‘eligible and registered voters’ – these weren’t people trying to cheat.”
The turnout drop was more likely to affect voters 23 and younger, new voters, and African Americans.
And given that these voting restrictions were imposed by Republican state policymakers, it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether the results are a feature, not a bug.
Making matters slightly worse, the GAO report uncovered no evidence of a voter-fraud problem, which at least ostensibly is the point of imposing these voting hurdles in the first place.
The Wisconsin and Texas laws are just two of the many that were passed in the wake of the Republican wave in 2010. They learned their lesson in 2008: let everyone vote and the Democrats win. So what to do? Work with your party to address the concerns of the voters? Find a way to broaden your appeal to a younger and more diverse electorate that is becoming part of the majority? Maybe rethink your positions on such things as economics and social issues?
Nah, that’s too hard. It’s a lot easier to whoop through a law that makes it harder to vote. Why bother with all that when you can cheat?