Federal Judges Rule Against Key Provisions of GOP-Backed Voting Laws in Georgia and Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — Federal judges in Georgia and Texas have issued rulings against significant aspects of two contentious election laws enacted two years ago as part of the Republican Party’s efforts to tighten voting regulations following former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election.

Federal Judges Rule Against Key Provisions of GOP-Backed Voting Laws in Georgia and Texas

In Texas, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez struck down a provision of the state’s law that required mail voters to provide the same identification number they used when registering to vote. The judge ruled that this requirement violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act by leading to voter disenfranchisement due to an irrelevant factor. This provision led to a sharp increase in rejected mail-in ballots after the law’s implementation in September 2021, prompting a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized that the ruling underscored that states cannot impose unlawful and unnecessary requirements that obstruct eligible voters’ participation in democracy.

Regarding Georgia, U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee issued mixed rulings on several aspects of the state’s election law. He temporarily halted the enforcement of penalties for providing food and water to voters waiting in line beyond 150 feet from the voting site and blocked the requirement for voters to provide their birthdate on absentee ballot envelopes. However, Boulee rejected claims that certain restrictions within the law hindered voters with disabilities from accessing absentee voting.

Federal Judges Rule Against Key Provisions of GOP-Backed Voting Laws in Georgia and Texas

The rulings sparked differing interpretations. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, highlighted that key components of the state’s law were upheld, including rules against ballot harvesting and measures securing absentee ballot drop boxes. Civil rights groups that had sought to block the law found encouragement in the ruling, emphasizing the importance of protecting access to the ballot box.

Both the Georgia and Texas laws were prominent among a series of restrictions on voting passed in Republican-controlled states following Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud after his 2020 loss. Over 100 restrictive laws have been passed in over 30 GOP-controlled states since 2020, according to the Voting Rights Lab.

Despite ongoing legal challenges, conservative efforts to increase control over elections persist. The Georgia law led to backlash and the relocation of the 2021 MLB All-Star Game, but voter turnout remained robust in the state’s 2022 elections. In Texas, the law passed despite legislative Democrats temporarily leaving the capitol to stall the measure. This law included even more restrictive provisions, raising legal risks for election workers and voters.

While these federal court decisions arrived two years after the laws’ passage, they are likely to face appeals. Advocates hope that these rulings will ultimately be upheld, with the ACLU’s Sophia Lin Lakin emphasizing that these restrictions on mail ballots have no place in the democratic process.

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