A federal judge on Thursday granted a temporary injunction against five state provisions that affect voter registration in Texas.
U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of Galveston ruled that a law that prohibits third-party voter registrars from working in more than one county and another that mandates registrars in Texas be residents of the state violate the First Amendment.
“During the 2011 legislative session, the Governor signed two bills that imposed a number of additional requirements,” Costa wrote in his 94-page opinion. “The result is that Texas now imposes more burdensome regulations on those engaging in third-party voter registration than the vast majority of, if not all, other states.”
The judge also struck down provisions that required deputy voter registrars be paid hourly, that prevented registration certificates from being photocopied and that prohibited completed forms from being mailed in to elections officials. A final judgment must still be rendered, Costa declared. Until then, the laws cannot be enforced.
The suit was filed in February against Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade’s office by Voting for America Inc., the voter registration affiliate of Project Vote, a national nonprofit voter education and advocacy organization.
Richard Winger, the editor of Ballot Access News, a newsletter that focuses on laws related to voter registration, wrote on the site that the payment provision does not mean registrars will be paid based on how many voters they register.
“They did not challenge the ban on paying on a per-registration card basis,” he wrote. “But they did challenge the related law that says compensation cannot be based on the worker’s performance. The plaintiff organizations want to be able to fire workers who do not do very much work.”
Rich Parsons, the secretary of state’s communications director, said the office had not received an official notification on Costa’s ruling and declined to comment.