U.S. Department of Justice Strikes Down Texas Voter Photo ID Law

AUSTIN, March 12, 2012 – The Department of Justice (DOJ) today denied preclearance to the Republican voter suppression legislation which could have disenfranchised 605,600 currently registered voters in Texas. The DOJ argued that the state never submitted the necessary information to prove that the Republican photo ID law would not discriminate against voters protected under the Voting Rights Act.

We’re pleased that the DOJ slapped down the Republican voter-suppression legislation. This unnecessary law would have trampled on the constitutional right to cast a ballot for hundreds of thousands of Texans. It’s time for the Attorney General to move forward and stop working to disenfranchise Texans. Republicans have wasted enough taxpayer dollars defending this voter suppression legislation.

Even so, Abbott pledges to continue with the lawsuit he filed in a D.C. court in order to try to have the photo ID law implemented. Texas Republicans continue to assert that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states like Texas with a history of racial discrimination to get approval before they implement any laws relating to elections, is no longer needed. Ironically, through their ongoing efforts at voter suppression, Texas Republicans continue to show just why Section 5 is still necessary.

The state continuously refused to provide the DOJ with a breakdown by race of the voters that would have been adversely affected by the voter suppression legislation. We bet it’s because this data would have proven without a doubt, that the Republican voter suppression legislation would violate the Voting Rights Act. The state had the resources at its disposal to produce highly accurate estimates of these voters. And, they should have done that analysis prior to passing the law in the first place.

The limited information furnished by the state shows that Hispanic voters would be disproportionately disenfranchised. According to data released by the Secretary of State, more than 605,600 Texans who are currently registered to vote, including 174,866 Texans with Spanish surnames, don’t have the identification necessary under this draconian measure. That’s equivalent to disenfranchising the population of entire states.

Boyd L. Richie, Chairman


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