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Justice Department bars Texas voter ID law

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/justice-department-bars-texas-voter-id-law/2012/03/12/gIQAUzgW7R_story.html Justice Department bars Texas voter ID law
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 12 10:41 AM
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      http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/justice-department-bars-texas-voter-id-law/2012/03/12/gIQAUzgW7R_story.html

      Justice Department bars Texas voter ID law
      By Sari Horwitz, Monday, March 12, 10:32 AM

      The Justice Department has blocked a new law in Texas requiring voters to show a photo ID, saying that it disproportionately harms Hispanic residents.

      The action is the second time in three months that the Obama administration has blocked a state voter ID law. In December, the Justice Department struck down South Carolina’s new law requiring photo identification at the polls, saying it discriminated against minority voters.

      In the case of South Carolina, officials said the South Carolina law adversely affected African American voters. In Texas, the law, signed last year by Gov. Rick Perry (R), discriminates against Hispanics, the Justice Department said.

      “Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card,” wrote Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, in a letter to Keith Ingram, director of elections for the Texas Secretary of State.

      The Justice Department’s challenge signals an escalating national legal battle over voter ID laws as the presidential campaign intensifies. Eight states passed voter ID laws last year, and critics say the new statutes could hurt turnout among minorities and others who helped elect President Obama in 2008. But conservative supporters and Republican attorneys general say the tight laws are needed to combat voter fraud.

      The Justice Department has blocked both the South Carolina and Texas voter ID laws under Section 5 of the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act. The provision requires 16 states or parts of states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval of any changes to their voting laws.

      Attorney General Eric Holder said unfair voting laws are a priority issue for his Justice Department.

      “The reality is that — in jurisdictions across the country — both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common and have not yet been relegated to the pages of history,” Holder said in one recent speech.

      The Justice Department’s actions are not final. Both South Carolina and Texas have filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Washington to be allowed to enforce their new voting laws.
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