The Texas voter ID law, one of Gov. Rick Perry’s top priorities during the 2011 Legislature, has been stalled by the U.S. Justice Department, which is insisting on demographic information about voters that state election officials say is virtually impossible to provide.
Texas Republicans expressed dismay Thursday after Justice Department officials said they need voter information about race and ethnicity before they can approve the controversial law, which is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1. The ruling raises the possibility that the law will not be in place by the March 6 primary.
Information that Texas election officials have provided “is incomplete and does not enable us to determine that the proposed changes have neither the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language group (required under the Voting Rights Act),” T. Christian Herren Jr., chief of the Justice Department’s Voting Section, said in a Wednesday letter to Texas elections director Ann McGeehan.
The requested information will be virtually impossible to gather, said state Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, House sponsor of the voter ID bill, SB 14. “I am disappointed,” she said. “I don’t know that the Secretary of State can provide the information in the format that they want. I am not sure that we will be able to satisfy them. I think it’s ridiculous.”