Breaking: Obama DOJ Rejects Republicans' Voter ID Law

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Big news: the Department of Justice rejected preclearance of the mandatory photo Voter ID law passed by the Republican legislature. That Voter ID law would have disenfranchised a potential one million Texas voters, the majority of whom are Hispanic. It will now not go into law before the 2012 elections. The DOJ letter is available here.

The DOJ has said that the State of Texas failed to show that the law has neither a discriminatory purpose nor effect. Well, duh! The law does have a discriminatory purpose and effect! It disproportionately prevents minorities from voting, as the Republicans intended, simply because minorities tend to vote Democratic.

Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, and the Republican Legislature were using this law as a Hail Mary to control the demographic trends that threaten GOP dominance in the Lone Star state. Can't control population growth and demographic trends that favor Democrats? Then just shut them out of the voting process so they can't exercise their power at the ballot box. That's the same motivating factor behind the redistricting struggle, efforts to defund public education, and every other Republican policy with a disproportionately adverse effect on the poor or minority Texans.

Special credit goes to State Senator Rodney Ellis and staff, who have pushed back hard on the Voter ID law every step of the way. From asking the Texas Secretary of State for specific data on disenfranchised voters to pushing back against the “need” for this legislation to prevent “voter fraud,” Ellis and staff have worked hard to protect voting rights of all Texans.

A statement from Ellis is below the jump.

And lest anyone forget, this is just another reason why it's so crucial to have a Democrat in the White House. Do any of you really think a Romney DOJ would have blocked preclearance of this law?  

Ellis Applauds DOJ Rejection of Texas Voter ID Law

(Austin, Texas)//Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today applauded the US Department of Justice's decision to reject preclearance of Texas' controversial voter ID law.  The department had recently rejected preclearance of a very similar voter ID law passed in South Carolina.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature approved so-called voter ID legislation that will make it significantly more difficult for potentially over one million eligible Texas voters to exercise their right to vote. The legislation established some of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation. The law — opposed by groups ranging from AARP to MALDEF to the NAACP and LULAC — requires voters to show picture identification in order to vote.

“I thank the Justice Department for standing up for voting rights,” said Ellis.  “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.”

Under Texas voter ID law, all voters must present one of the following forms of photo identification in order to be eligible to vote:

* Driver's license, election identification certificate, personal identification card, or concealed handgun license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety;

* U.S. military identification card containing the person's photograph;

* U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person's photograph; or

* U.S. passport.

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, all of the forms of identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented at the polling place.

“There are more UFO and Bigfoot sightings than documented cases of voter impersonation,” said Ellis. “After years of testimony and debate, supporters of Texas' voter ID law still cannot prove their case that voter impersonation is even a minor problem in Texas.  We, unfortunately, have plenty of evidence that it will disenfranchise legal student, elderly, African American and Hispanic voters.  The Department of Justice saw that evidence and made the right decision.”

About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She has previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Austin. In addition to serving as the president of Austin Young Democrats, she is also UCONN's #1 fan in Texas.

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