A federal judge on Thursday struck down a Texas law requiring voters to show identification at polls, saying it placed an unconstitutional burden on voters and discriminated against minorities.
In a ruling that follows a two-week trial in Corpus Christi of a lawsuit challenging the controversial law, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos also found that it amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot said the state would "immediately" appeal Ramos's ruling to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to avoid confusion in the upcoming November elections.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are constitutional, so we are confident the Texas law will be upheld on appeal," Abbott said in a written statement.
But a spokesman for the NAACP hailed the ruling, saying that the law had been enacted by Texas to "minimize the growing political power of minorities" in the state.
"Fortunately, the court's ruling today prevented that result," said Natasha Korgaonkar, who represented the NAACP at trial.
The trial stemmed from a battle over stringent voter ID measures signed into law by Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry in 2011. The measure, which supporters say will prevent voter fraud, requires voters to present a photo ID such as a concealed handgun license or driver's license.
Plaintiffs argued the law would hit elderly and poorer voters, including racial minorities, hardest because they are less likely to have such identification.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Walsh and Ken Wills)