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Texas Voters Ask Supreme Court to Block Voter ID Law

by Pete Williams /
Voters wait in line to cast their Super Tuesday ballots at a polling station located at the University Co-op in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Voters from Vermont to Colorado, Alaska to American Samoa and a host of states in between were heading to polling places and caucus sites on the busiest day of the 2016 primaries.Tamir Kalifa / AP

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Hispanic voters in Texas, joined by a Democratic congressman, asked the U.S. Supreme Court Friday to block the state from enforcing its tough voter ID law during this fall's elections.

Passed in 2011 and subject to court challenges ever since, the law requires a photo ID to vote but limits the permissible forms of identification. College ID's, for example, are not accepted, but gun licenses are.

A federal judge struck the law down, but a federal appeals court blocked that order two years ago, ruling that the state should be allowed to enforce the law in order to avoid confusion, because the 2014 election was so near.

The law has been enforced since then, and it was in effect during this year's Texas primary.

Related: Texas Sued Over Voter Registration Policies

In an application filed Friday, lawyers for the League of United Latin American Citizens and Rep. Marc Veasy of Fort Worth said the justification for the 2014 appeals court order has long since evaporated "and should not have extended further than the 2014 election cycle."

It's important for the Supreme Court to act now because "further delay, even of two or three months, is perilous to obtaining any relief for the November 2016 election."

In striking the law down two years ago, a federal judge found that more than 600,000 registered Texas voters did not have the kinds of ID's required by the new law. He said the law burden would disproportionately affect Hispanics and African-Americans.

The judge also said that the Texas legislature repeatedly made choices that would favor white or Anglo voters and disfavor minority voters.

This latest request to block enforcement of the law was filed with Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court justice assigned to that part of the country. He will likely refer it to the full court for consideration, after Texas is invited to file a response.

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