The Justice Department has rejected Texas’s new voter identification law, concluding that its requirements allowing only certain IDs at the polls are likely to discriminate against Latinos.
“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” a driver’s license or official non-driver ID card, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez said in a letter to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office Monday.
Under the Voting Rights Act, Texas and parts or all of 15 other states are required to have voting changes preapproved by the Justice Department or a federal court. Texas filed suit in January seeking pre-approval of the voter ID law. The case is pending before a three-judge court. Under the law, the state has the burden to demonstrate that the changes in voting procedures will not have a “retrogressive effect” on electoral participation by minorities.
It is clear that the Obama administration is not looking favorably on voter identification laws, despite the measure’s widespread popularity. It seems likely that Texas, like South Carolina, will have to win in the courts before implementing these efforts to restore confidence in elections.
Like South Carolina and Texas, North Carolina must gain federal approval before making changes to voting laws. If the North Carolina General Assembly succeeds in overriding Governor Perdue’s veto of HB 351, “Restore Confidence in Government Act”, they may face similiar disapproval from the Department of Justice.