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Federal appeals court orders changes to Texas’ voter ID law

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AUSTIN, Texas – A federal appeals court has ruled that Texas’ strict voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and has ordered changes before the November election.

The ruling was issued Wednesday by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling instructs a lower court to make changes that fix the “discriminatory effect” of the 2011 law in the months leading up to this fall’s election.

But the ruling said the lower court should make changes that disrupt this year’s election season as little as possible.

The law requires Texas residents to show one of seven forms of identification before they are allowed to vote. Supporters say it prevents fraud, but opponents say it is discriminatory because some of those IDs are harder for low-income, African-American and Latino voters to obtain.

The Obama administration took the unusual step of deploying the weight of the U.S. Justice Department into the case when it challenged the law.