Bill Rankin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 18
A federal judge in Rome today issued an order suspending a new state law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls for the upcoming November municipal elections throughout Georgia.
U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy granted the injunction to lawyers for Common Cause of Georgia, the ACLU, the NAACP and other groups who challenged the law that requires Georgians to purchase a state-issued photo identification before voting.
The plaintiffs, Murphy found, have shown there is a substantial likelihood they will ultimately prevail in showing the photo ID requirement “unduly burdens the right to vote” and “constitutes a poll tax.”
Murphy, in a 123-page order, said he had great respect for the Georgia Legislature, which passed the law earlier this year. “The court, however, simply has more respect for the Constitution,” Murphy added.
The U.S. Justice Department approved the law in August, saying that while Attorney General Alberto Gonzales didn’t object to the state’s voter ID requirement the federal agency’s approval didn’t preclude lawsuits against it.
Weeks after the law won federal approval, voter and civil rights groups filed the federal lawsuit challenging the law, contending it violates state and federal constitutions.
The Republican-backed measure sparked racial tensions during the state’s legislative session last spring. Most of Georgia’s black lawmakers walked out at the state Capitol when it was approved.
Democrats had argued the idea was a political move by the GOP to depress voting among minorities, the elderly and the poor — all traditional bases for Democrats. Its opponents include the AARP, League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.