The Justice Dept. said today that the Texas Voter ID law requiring a driver's license or DPS ID to vote violates the Voting Rights Act for discriinating against Hispanics and other other minorities. Justice's refusal to "pre-clear" the new state law is not final since a three judge panel in D.C. will, like the redistricting case, hold a trial and determine if there is "retrogression" under Section 5 of the VRA, a law that applies to nine Southern states with a history of discrimination.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said in a letter to the Texas Secretarty of State Elections Div., released this morning, that "we conclude that the total number of registered voters who lack a driver’s license or personal identification card issued by DPS could range from 603,892 to 795,955. The disparity between the percentages of Hispanics and non-Hispanics who lack these forms of
identification ranges from 46.5 to 120.0 percent. That is, according to the state’s own data, a
Hispanic registered voter is at least 46.5 percent, and potentially 120.0 percent, more likely than
a non-Hispanic registered voter to lack this identification. Even using the data most favorable to
the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification
card issued by DPS, and that disparity is statistically significant."
The letter goes on to say "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 – 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
And Justice's final word: "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 the state has established that the proposed changes were adopted with no discriminatory purpose."
Chad Dunn, a lawyer for intervenors in the court case, including Texas Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott "has been unable to document one case of voter impersonation" and that new law is "attempting to tap down the voices of the growing minority population."
A status hearing on the court case will be held by telephone Wednesday in D.C.