HOUSTON — A federal judge blocked Texas from enforcing its revamped voter identification law on Wednesday, ruling that the state Legislature’s attempt to loosen the law did not go far enough and perpetuated discrimination against black and Hispanic voters.
The decision was the latest chapter in a years-long court battle over the state’s voter ID rules. The stakes are high: As a result of previous court rulings, the state could be forced to undergo federal oversight of its election procedures.
The judge, US District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, had previously found that the original law was passed with the intent to discriminate against blacks and Hispanics. It required voters to show one of seven forms of government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
The Legislature softened the law in response to legal challenges and court rulings, by allowing potential voters to sign an affidavit and show more widely available types of ID, including a utility bill or a bank statement. The new law was set to take effect in January, despite complaints from critics that it created criminal penalties for those who made false claims about needing to use alternate IDs.