SAN ANTONIO – Two of the lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the Texas voter ID law said they applaud Monday’s ruling by Federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, which reinforces her earlier decision that the law “intentionally discriminated” against minority voters.
The Texas photo ID law is considered the nation’s most stringent.
Luis Vera, the national general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Lydia Camarillo, vice president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, said the ruling is now the third time the law has been struck down.
“Every federal judge that’s seen this has said the same thing, and they’re mostly Republican judges,” Vera said.
"It was done with intent, intent and malice to discriminate," Camarillo said.
Gov. Greg Abbott has said he doesn’t believe that, but rather thinks the 2011 law protects the integrity of elections.
The state of Texas has 90 days to appeal the ruling. For that reason, Secretary of State Rolando Pablos would not comment on the ruling, because he is a defendant, his spokesman said.
Even as state lawmakers are trying to fix the current law, Camarillo said her advice is, “Drop it. Get rid of it.”
“As we say in Spanish, ‘Sin necesidad.' There’s no reason for it,” Vera said.
Although the current law lists other documents that can be used for voter identification, Camarillo said, “If we get an ID and it costs money, it’s a poll tax to poor people.”
In making her ruling, the federal judge made the same comparison.
Camarillo said the Help America Vote Act that was adopted in 2000 after the Bush v. Gore debacle already provides for alternative forms of identification, such as utility bills, that show who voters are and where they live.
Camarillo said to obtain a driver’s license, birth certificates are required.
She said illegal immigrants and permanent U.S. residents are the least likely to violate election laws.
“They’re not going to do anything to hurt their status and be picked up and deported,” Camarillo said. “So there’s a number of steps that we have to do in order to demonstrate who we are."
Vera said he questions the cost involved in the state defending its voter ID law even as “a certain group of people want to talk about government waste, talk about saving taxpayer dollars.”
Camarillo said over $1 million of taxpayers' money was spent trying to prove voter fraud that doesn’t exist.
“Some people are going to do it because they’re fools, not because there’s a systemic problem with fraud," Vera said.
Don't miss a thing. Get email alerts from KSAT 12 today.
Get alerted to news events as they happen or sign up for a scheduled news headline email that is delivered right to your inbox. Breaking news, severe weather, daily forecasts, entertainment news, all of the day’s important events to keep you up to date wherever you are.
Sign up today. It's Free.