Courts: Voters Don't Need ID at Wisconsin, Texas Polls
Critics say requiring ID now would 'virtually guarantee chaos at the polls'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2014 8:21 AM CDT
In this May 20, 2014, file photo, election worker Dorothy Davis checks a voter's ID at a polling place in Little Rock, Ark.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

(Newser) – Advocates of voter ID laws say they help address absentee voter issues; critics say the laws are discriminatory against poor, elderly, and minority voters. Two courts went with the nays last night in Wisconsin and Texas, blocking identification requirements at the polls that some say would have "virtually [guaranteed] chaos," the New York Times reports. The Supreme Court struck down the Wisconsin law, which had been provisionally reinstated by an appeals court last month; it had been blocked by a federal trial judge before that because the law would "deter or prevent a substantial number of the 300,000-plus registered voters who lack ID from voting." One of the issues in Wisconsin is that absentee ballot forms were mailed out before the law was recently reinstated.

As such, the Times explains, the ID mandate wasn't mentioned on the paperwork voters received—an issue noted even by dissenting Supreme Court Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas, who said that the state's timing made it "difficult" to push for ID requirements. Meanwhile, a federal trial judge in Texas found that the voter ID law there "creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose." Wisconsin state officials argue that voters know about the ID rule already and that reversing course now is akin to giving them the "pinball treatment"; as for the Texas attorney general's office, it's saying it will appeal the ruling there.