Federal judges have ruled against provisions of GOP-backed voting laws in Georgia and Texas
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Federal judges in Georgia and Texas have ruled against key provisions in two controversial election laws passed two years ago as the GOP sought to tighten voting rules after the former president. Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential contest.
US District Judge Xavier Rodriguez has struck down a provision in Texas law that required mail-in voters to provide the same identification number they used when registering to vote. It was ruled that this requirement violated US civil rights law because it resulted in people being unable to cast ballots over a matter unrelated to whether or not they were registered.
Change led to A sharp rise in the number of rejected mail-in ballots In the first election after the passage of the law in September 2021 and was targeted in a lawsuit from the US Department of Justice.
“This ruling sends a clear message that states may not impose illegal and unnecessary requirements that deny eligible voters who seek to participate in our democracy,” Assistant Attorney General Christine Clark said in a statement after Thursday’s ruling.
The Texas Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Georgia, voting rights advocates received a mixed bag of rulings Friday from US District Judge J.B. Polley.
It temporarily barred officials from imposing penalties on people who serve food and water to voters waiting in line as long as they are more than 150 feet away from the building where voting is taking place. It also blocked a portion of the law requiring voters to provide their date of birth on absentee ballot envelopes.
But Polley rejected the groups’ claims that some of the restrictions imposed by the law deny voters with disabilities the right to vote absentee.
This led to both sides declaring victory. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said in a news release that the court upheld key parts of the state law.
“I am glad the court upheld the rules of Georgian logic prohibiting harvesting ballot papers and securing absentee ballot boxes,” he said. “Georgia’s voting system is open to all voters, with voters having multiple options to choose how they want to exercise their right to vote.”
Still, civil rights groups suing to block the law greeted the ruling: “Today’s decisions are important wins for our democracy and protect access to the polls in Georgia,” said John Cusick, associate counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
The Georgia and Texas laws were the highlight of the storm of red state voting restrictions that passed in the wake of Trump’s 2020 loss, which Falsely blame on voter fraud. The Voting Rights Lab, which has tracked the legislation since its inception, said more than 100 restrictive laws have been passed in more than 30 GOP-controlled states since 2020.
Conservatives have She continued to push for increased control over the electionseven as the initial proceedings remain embroiled in litigation.
The Georgia law sparked protests and the move of the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver. but, Turnout remained strong in the 2022 election in the state, prompting Republicans to say the response was an overreaction.
The Texas bill was passed several months later by legislative Democrats He fled the capital to delay the procedure. it contains More restrictive provisions on votingSome of them have increased legal risks for election workers or even the voters themselves.
The two federal court rulings are likely to be appealed, though they come two years after the bills were passed. Advocates said they hoped they would be upheld.
“I think these rulings demonstrate that the courts agree that these kinds of restrictions on mail-in ballots really have no place in our democracy,” said Sophia Lynn Lakin, co-director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
Riccardi reported from Denver and Brumback from Atlanta. Ayanna Alexander in Washington contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on apnews.com