DOJ Rejects Texas Voter ID Law As Biased Against Latinos
Communities of color in Texas have won an important battle in the state's ongoing voting wars.
The U.S. Department of Justice has held that Texas' new voter ID is discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act because it unduly impacts more than 600,000 voters, most of whom are Latino. The DOJ decision means the law cannot take effect, however the state combative GOP Attorney General, Greg Abbott, is all but certain to appeal. In other words, the battle over GOP-backed voter suppression tactics in Texas is not over, but the momentum is against the draconian law.
Here's an excerpt from the DOJ's decision, as posted on Rick Hasen's ElectionLawBlog.
"Even after submitting data that show over 600,000 registered voters do not have either a driver’s license or personal identification card issued by DPS [Department of Public Safety] – and that a disproportionate share of those registered voters are Hispanic – the state has failed to propose, much less adopt, any program for individuals who have to travel a significant distance to a DPS office, who have limited access to transportation, or who are unable to get to a DPS office during their hours of operation. This failure is particularly noteworthy given Texas’s geography and demographics, which arguably make the necessity for mitigating measures greater than in other states. The state also has not developed any specific proposals to educate either voters about how to comply with the new identification requirement or poll officials about how to enforce the proposed change..."
"In conclusion, the state has not met its burden of proving that, when compared to the benchmark, the proposed requirement will not have a retrogressive effect, or that any specific features of the proposed law will prevent or mitigate that retrogression. Additionally, the state has failed to demonstrate why it could not meet its stated goals of ensuring electoral integrity and deterring ineligible voters from voting in a manner that would have avoided this retrogressive effect. 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 then state has established that the proposed changes were adopted with no discriminatory purpose."
This fight is not yet over, but at at time when many voting rights lawyers are predicting the John Roberts Supreme Court will soon find ways to invalidate the federal Voting Rights Act, it is gratifying to see the landmark civil rights law is working as intended: to stop race-based discrimination in elections.