Justice Department Rejects Texas Voter ID Law

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Justice Department has rejected the Texas voter ID law signed by Gov. Rick Perry in May, according to Houston Chronicle. The matter will now be taken up by a federal court in Washington this summer, too late for the May primary.

What does the Texas voter ID law require?

According to a page on voter identification laws maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Texas law requires someone to have a form of photo ID to vote. IDs that are considered acceptable include a driver's license, an election identification certificate, a Department of Public Safety personal ID card, a U.S. military ID, a U.S. citizenship certificate, a U.S. passport or a license to carry a concealed handgun issued by the Department of Public Safety. The ID cannot have been expired when being presented to the voter registrar.

If the voter does not have an ID, he or she can cast a provisional ballot. Then the voter has to present a photo ID to the registrar no later than the sixth day after the election. But a voter can also swear an affidavit that he or she has religious objections to being photographed or else has been unable to acquire a current photo ID due to a natural catastrophe.

Why was the law passed?

The law is meant to mitigate against voter fraud. To what extent voter fraud exists in Texas is a matter of dispute. The Dallas Morning News reports that there is no significant voter ID problem in Texas. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott begs to differ, writing that voter fraud has been a problem in Texas since the infamous 1948 primary in which Lyndon Johnson is alleged to have stolen an election through ballot box stuffing.

What is the Justice Department's objection?

The Justice Department claims the Texas voter ID law would discriminate against poor and minority voters. It claims Hispanic voters are 46.5 percent to 120 percent more likely to lack any kind of photo ID than the rest of the population. Texas had not proven the law will not discriminate against Hispanics. Thus, under the Voting Rights Act, the law is rejected.

What has been the reaction to the decision?

The reaction has broken down along party lines. According to MySan Antonio, Republican Sen. John Cornyn maintains the voter ID law is constitutional and accused the Justice Department of political motivations. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, counters the decision was not political but was based on inadequate information provided by Texas.

Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network

View Comments (2)