— A state judge has blocked Alabama from enforcing an election law that would require people to have a valid photo ID before casting their ballots.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday invalidated an Alabama voter ID law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2016.
The law required voters to present a photo ID when casting a ballot, which is often necessary for casting a provisional ballot, and requires a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot.
The law would have been on the books if the Alabama Supreme Court had struck it down, a conservative court majority wrote in a 4-3 decision.
But the high court refused to take up the issue on its own and instead decided to hear arguments on whether the law violates the federal Voting Rights Act.
The decision comes as a number of states are looking to expand voting access to people who lack photo IDs.
The Alabama law would only apply to people over 21 who do not have a government photo ID, which would be considered low-income.
The Alabama Republican Party called the ruling a “major setback for democracy in Alabama.”AUBURN AUBURNDALE, Ala., Jan. 26, 2019 — The Alabama Supreme Judicial Court on Monday upheld a lower court’s decision that struck down a law that requires people to present photo ID or a government issued photo ID for voting in elections.
The lower court ruling in September 2019 ruled the law was unconstitutional because it would require voters to provide proof of a government ID when they applied to register or cast a provisional vote.
The court said the law violated the federal VRA, which prohibits states from discriminating against voters on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or other protected status.
The Supreme Court decided Monday that the lower court lacked jurisdiction in a case that arose before it.
The case was filed by Alabama voters who wanted to change their registration to vote provisional.
In a statement, Republican Attorney General Luther Strange said the court had the “responsibility to rule on the constitutionality of the law and it was unfortunate that the court refused.”
This ruling sends a clear message to other states that they must protect the rights of Alabama voters,” he said.