Maryann Tobin

Voter ID laws are beginning to fall as judges declare them discriminatory and illegal. Both Texas and Florida voter ID laws met defeat on Thursday with court rulings.

In Texas, a panel of three U.S. federal court judges called the new voter ID law too "strict" and placed an unfair burden on the poor.

Today's decision marks the second defeat for Texas voter ID laws. In March, the U.S. Justice Department ruled that it had a disproportionate effect on "minorities," particularly Hispanics.

Florida suffered a similar defeat on Wednesday as the Republican efforts to penalize voter registration were found to be unreasonable and unfair.

MSNBC reported on the ruling this way:

"A federal judge said Wednesday he would permanently remove harsh restrictions on third-party voter registration groups that have handicapped registration efforts in Florida this year. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle said he would grant a motion to permanently remove the restrictions once he receives confirmation that a federal appeals court has dismissed the case (the state of Florida has agreed to dismiss their appeal).

“The suit was originally filed back in December by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Rock the Vote, and the Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. The Justice Department opposed the restrictions in a separate lawsuit."

Republican-led state legislatures have been leading the charge on voter suppression, which has spread to more than 30 states.

Other efforts to suppress voting rights include shortening or eliminating early voting hours.

Ohio went so far as to try to have longer early voting hours only in Republican districts. However, under intense public pressure to end what appeared to be an obvious effort to suppress only votes from Democrats, Jon Husted, the Ohio secretary of state, agreed to adopt standardized early voting hours, which cut all weekend voting.

But Ohio remains a hot seat for the voter suppression controversy. On Tuesday, two Democratic voting officials were fired for defending voting rights.

"Democrats on the Montgomery County elections board, an area which includes Democratic-leaning Dayton, voted to allow weekend voting after Husted's directive was issued. Their votes were balanced by two Republican board members who opposed the change and the idea did not progress toward implementation. After reviewing a report from an August 20 hearing on the case, Husted decided to fire the Democrats," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Voter ID laws have been pushed in Republican-controlled statehouses under claims that voter impersonation is a huge problem. However the facts do not support those claims. The U.S. Justice Department prosecuted only 86 cases of voter fraud between 2002 and 2007, out of 300 million votes.

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