US appeals court finds that Texas voter ID law is discriminatory

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5th Circuit to Revisit Texas Voter ID Law

AUSTIN, Texas, July 20 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a Texas law requiring voters to show a government-issued form of photo identification before casting a ballot is discriminatory and violates the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit also sent the case back to a district court to examine claims by the plaintiffs that the law had a discriminatory purpose.

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Critics of the law and others like it passed in recent years in Republican-governed states said such statutes are intended to make it harder for minorities such as African-Americans and Hispanics who tend to back Democrats to vote. Backers of these laws say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

The New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit asked the district court for a short-term fix to be used in Texas in the November general election.

"Therefore, to avoid disruption of the upcoming election, we rely on equitable principles in concluding that the district court should first focus on fashioning interim relief for the discriminatory effect violation in the months leading up to the November 2016 general election," it said.

The U.S. Supreme Court in April rejected a bid to block the Texas law, but left the door open to a renewed challenge before the November elections.

See more from the fight for voting rights in Texas:

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Texas voting rights, Voter ID Law
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Texas voting rights, Voter ID Law
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2014 file photo, an election official checks a voter's photo identification at an early voting polling site in Austin, Texas. As voters take to polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, they'll encounter a set of rules about their registration, the need to show a photo ID and casting a provisional ballot if they encounter a problem that have changed substantially in some states in the past two years - and, in some cases, remain subject to court fights over their constitutionality. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2013 file photo, a sign in a window tells of photo ID requirements for voting at a polling location in Richardson, Texas. Overshadowed in a big election year for Texas is a big trial coming over how ballots are now cast: under a tough new voter ID law. A trial begins Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in Corpus Christi over one of the most stringent voter ID measures in the nation. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will decide whether the Texas law is a legal safeguard or a discriminatory mandate that suppresses minority turnout. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, a voter shows his photo identification to an election official at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, "I Voted Early" stickers are seen at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, an election official checks waits for voters at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, a voter casts his ballot at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, pedestrians pass voting signs near an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, an election official checks a voter's photo identification at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE - In this July 29, 2005, file photo, former House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas stands next to the Texas pillar while touring the World War II Memorial in Washington. Wright was initially denied a certificate to vote in Texas because he didn’t have proper documentation under Texas’ Voter ID law, which will be enforced for the first time during Tuesday’s election. (AP Photo/Yuri Gripas, File)
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, speaks during a news conference Monday, March 9, 2009, in Austin, Texas. A partisan clash is due in the Texas Senate Tuesday, when lawmakers take up a bill designed to tighten voter ID requirements. The bill would require Texans to prove their eligibility before voting. Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso is on the left. Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas is on the right. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Ruben Vazquez, 77, from Marion, Texas, attends a news conference outside the Capitol Monday, April 23, 2007, in Austin, Texas. He joined in support of speakers who oppose a proposed bill that would require all voters to show a photo identification before voting. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, foreground, speaks during a news conference outside the Capitol Monday, April 23, 2007, in Austin, Texas. He joined other speakers to oppose a proposed bill that would require all voters to show a photo identification before voting. In the background at left is Rep. Terri Hodge, D-Dallas, and Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
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(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Lawrence Hurley in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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