Eric Holder Calls For Texas Voting Changes To Undergo Pre-Approval; Greg Abbott Vows To Fight It

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It's shaping up to be a battle of the Attorneys General over voting rights in Texas.

This morning, during a speech at the National Urban League conference, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the DOJ will ask the federal court in San Antonio to require “pre-approval” before any changes to voting procedures are put into place.

A “pre-approval” requirement is allowed in instances where there is intentional voting discrimination — in this case Texas's photo voter ID law, which intentionally and disproportionately disenfranchises minority voters.

Holder said that based on evidence of intentional racial discrimination presented last year in the redistricting case in Texas, “we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.”

In Texas, there is a history of “pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities,” Holder added.

Texas is pretty much the case study for why we still need a full and robust Voting Rights Act, from Republicans' intentionally discriminatory redistricting maps to their intentionally discriminatory photo voter ID schemes.

Texas AG and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott was quick to weigh in, vowing to “fight Obama's effort to control our elections.”

Read Greg Abbott's tweet on the matter below the jump.

 Abbott, who describes his job as the state's top attorney as “I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home,” has sued the federal government 25 times (and counting), racking up 5 wins and 8 losses, and spending a cool $2.58 million in taxpayer dollars in the process.

So it's no surprise that when Obama's DOJ announces that they will stick up for voting rights in the case of intentional discrimination, Abbott was quick to reply:

This move by Holder to require pre-approval is the first effort by the DOJ to safeguard voting rights since the Supreme Court threw out the section of the Voting Rights Act that determines which jurisdictions must obtain pre-clearance.

The effort will hopefully bolster the lawsuit filed against the photo voter ID law in federal court.

From the AP:

In the Texas case, the department is not directly intervening but is filing what's known as a statement of interest in support of the private groups that have filed suit.

Holder said that based on evidence of intentional racial discrimination presented last year in a redistricting case in Texas, “we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.”

In Texas, there is a history of “pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities,” Holder added.

An excellent post at ThinkProgress clarifies this further:

Under section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, a state can be brought back under the pre-clearance requirement if a court find that “violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment justifying equitable relief have occurred within the territory of such State or political subdivision.” Essentially, states with a recent record of attacks on the constitutional right to be free from race discrimination in voting can be brought back under federal supervision.

To sum up:

Texas has a history of racial discrimination in changes to voting rights, from requiring a photo ID to drawing intentionally discriminatory legislative and Congressional maps.

US Attorney General Eric Holder is using the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act to fight this ongoing effort by the state of Texas to disenfranchise minority voters.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott — now a candidate for Texas governor — has vowed to fight Holder's effort to fight this intentional voter discrimination.

We'll keep you posted as this story develops.  

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About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

1 Comment

  1. Complying with the Voting Law
    I support Holder's efforts, but Democrats can not just sit back and let eligible voters not be able to vote because they are unable to get the appropriate papers.  Right now we need to organizing a Get out the vote effort aimed at informing democratic voters what the is required and assisting those who have difficulty complying with the law to meet the requirements.  

    It is all fine and good that the law is challenged, but it is prudent to assist compliance now rather than loose those voters if the challenge fails.  

    Every County Chairperson needs to exhibit the ability to run such a GOTV campaign.    

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