Voter ID Laws Struck Down in Texas, Wisconsin

Federal judges struck down two states' voter ID laws today, throwing out government-issued identification requirements at the polls in both Texas and Wisconsin.

In Texas, the Justice Department ruled that the ID requirement would disproportionately affect the state's Hispanic voters, 11 percent of which do not have the necessary identification and would thus not be able to vote.

The Wisconsin law, which went into effect last May, was struck down because, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess wrote in his ruling, it would "impermissibly eliminate the right of suffrage altogether for certain constitutionally qualified electors."

Proponents of both states' voter ID laws argue that the identification requirement would help prevent voter fraud. Opponents note that there are extremely few documented cases of the types of voter fraud that ID laws would prevent and that such laws would prevent a significant number of eligible citizens from voting.

"Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression," Wisconsin's Niess wrote. "Indeed, they are two heads on the monster."

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is expected to appeal the decision later this week in an attempt to have the law re-instated before the state's primary election April 3.

Texas has appealed the Obama administration's injunction to the U.S. District Court in Washington.

"The DOJ has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requires nothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive a library card or board an airplane," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement.

The former presidential candidate said that the administration's "denial is yet another example of the Obama administration's continuing and pervasive federal overreach."

Texas is the second state to see its voter ID law shot down by the Obama administration, after a similar law in South Carolina was struck down in December.

After Republicans swept state house elections in 2010, seven states enacted voter ID laws. The Justice Department's injunctions against the Texas and South Carolina laws mark the first time in nearly 20 years that the government has rejected a state voter ID law, the Washington Post reports.