Voting rights advocates said the decisions were a body blow to Republican attempts in eight critical states to disenfranchise poor and minority voters by enacting onerous new voting rules in a ploy to goose the chances of the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Vowing to appeal the decisions to the Supreme Court ahead of the election, Republicans cite major polls suggesting that Americans, on the whole, are more concerned about protecting the legitimacy of the vote than the mere possibility of disenfranchising voters.
"This is actually a national trend, where states are trying to do a better job of securing the integrity of the ballot boxes, and yet courts [are] pushing back against that, seemingly promoting and allowing illegal voters to participate in the election process," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, saying that hundreds of deceased people were found to have voted in the state’s recent primary.
The battle over poll security continues to heat up, and could become even uglier as Texas and South Carolina appeal their decisions, possibly putting the Supreme Court in the position to have to make a quick ruling before the election on whether the laws should stand for the November election.
The science on voter ID laws, however, is far from settled, as officials in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas have argued. They have pointed to a Georgia voter ID law that took effect in 2005, where the immediate impact was that higher percentages of minorities voted in 2008 and 2010 than before the law was enacted. Other studies have found that minority voter participation falls off slightly immediately after new rules take effect, and then bounces back and in some cases even increases.