Federal Judge Upholds Virginia Voter ID Law

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A federal judge declared a Virginia voter ID law constitutional Thursday, in a opinion dismissing a legal challenge brought by the Democratic Party of Virginia on behalf of voters in the state.

Judge Henry E. Hudson of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia sided with the Virginia State Board of Elections on all the claims the challengers brought against the state’s requirement that voters show a photo ID.

Hudson said that the challengers had failed to provide evidence that the 2013 law — which was toughened by the elections board in 2014, after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act — was enacted with a discriminatory intent.

(Before the Supreme Court 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, Virginia would have had to get the tighter restrictions approved by the feds. The original 2013 law was indeed okayed by the Department of Justice.)

“The record evidence fails to support Plaintiffs contention that the Virginia photo ID law is arbitrary, irrational, or invidiously discriminatory, in either its enactment or implementation,” Hudson said Thursday.

He said that even though the challengers had presented Virginia residents who were burdened by the ID requirement, “in most cases, complying with the law proved to be a surmountable hurdle.”

“While SB 1256 may have added a layer of inconvenience to the voting process it appears to affect all voters equally,” Hudson said.

Update: Marc Elias, the voting rights lawyer who spear-headed the challenge, told TPM that he plans to appeal the decision.

Read the opinion below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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