Battle Over Voter ID Laws Intensifies as Election Nears

Federal judges appear to be going against Republican-backed state measures to prevent voter fraud saying they discriminate against the poor and minorities. But states say they will appeal every court ruling to the Supreme Court before the November election.

The fight over early-voting and ID laws, which can play a crucial role in this year's election given that many of these laws are in key states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, has been in the spotlight over the last two weeks.

On Friday, a federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, favored a request from President Barack Obama's campaign to allow all voters in the state to cast their ballot in person during the three days before Election Day, The Associated Press reported. The judge ruled that the law violates the constitution by changing the in-person early voting deadline, and that the state was wrongly valuing certain votes above others.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is likely to appeal the decision on Tuesday.

Friday also saw wrapping up of a week of testimony in the federal trial of South Carolina's lawsuit against the Obama administration decision that the state law violated the protections for minority voters under the Voting Rights Act. Attorney General Alan Wilson assured the court that people without cars, birth certificates, not enough time or other "reasonable impediments" to getting photo identification would be allowed to vote under the law.

Closing arguments are expected to be held on Sept. 24. Wilson hinted that the state will appeal to the Supreme Court if the law is struck down.

A day earlier, on Thursday, a three-judge panel struck down Texas' voter ID law. The panel said the law would hit turnout among black and Latino voters and impose "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott have said they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. "Chalk up another victory for fraud," Perry responded to the ruling in a statement. "Today, federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas and undermined our effort to ensure fair and accurate elections."

Two weeks ago, a state appeals court upheld Pennsylvania's voter ID law passed by Republicans without Democratic support. However, the ruling will be the subject of a Sept. 13 state Supreme Court hearing in Philadelphia.

Opponents say these laws seek to hurt Democratic voters including Afro-Americans and Latinos. Republican lawmakers deny that, saying they intend to protect the legitimacy of the vote.

South Carolina Rep. Alan Clemmons, who sponsored the state law in House, has said the law "doesn't disenfranchise anyone."

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