This morning, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed and rejected it by refusing to “preclear” the law.
The law would have required a voter to present a valid government-issued identification card. The law requires a Texas driver’s license or Department of Public Safety identification card. The law allowed concealed handgun licenses to be used instead of a driver’s license but not student ID cards from Texas colleges and universities.
Nearly 20 percent of all Texans — and up to 40 percent of minorities in certain areas — lack the necessary documents, never mind that fact that budget cuts have caused the closure of scores of rural DPS offices and the curtailment of hours in others.
Because of its history of voter suppression, Texas is one of several states that must get preclearance before enacting any legislation that would affect voter rights. In fact, this law — along with similar laws passed by other Southern states this year — is a pretty stark reminder that each and every one of the provisions in the Voting Rights Act are still necessary.
The Justice Department wrote: “Because we conclude that the state has failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the proposed law will not have a retrogressive effect, we do not make any determination as to whether the state has established that the proposed changes were adopted with no discriminatory purpose.”
Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said, “Throughout the preclearance process, Texas consistently failed to produce information showing the law would not have a discriminatory impact on minority voters. The Voting Rights Act exists for this exact purpose: protecting the ability of all Americans to access the ballot box.”
This isn’t necessarily over. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will likely fight the decision and it could end up at the Supreme Court.
Related articles (the Texas Tribune article is the most comprehensive)
- Feds reject Texas Voter ID law (Texas Tribune)
- Feds challenge Texas Voter ID law (Houston Chronicle)
- Department of Justice rejects Voter ID (Austin American-Statesman)
- US vow to protect voters’ rights (bbc.co.uk)
- Voting is a Right not a Privilege – STOP Voter Suppression (ynative77.wordpress.com)