If the Supreme Court were a car, it would be a Volvo. Slow, safe, and built for the long haul. In fact if Bush v. Gore taught us anything, it’s that when the court tries to be a Lamborghini, racing to meet deadlines and flipping through its day planners to forestall impending election disasters, that’s usually when the law ends up flipping a guardrail and landing upside down on the side of the road.
At 1 p.m. on Monday, the Supreme Court will hold 70 minutes of argument in three cases — being heard on an expedited schedule — on the new election districts that Texas will use in 2012 balloting for the state legislature and for its expanded delegation in Congress. Arguing for the state of Texas, with 30 minutes of time, will be former U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, now in private practice in Washington with the Bancroft law firm. He will be followed by Principal Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan, arguing for the federal government as an amicus, with ten minutes. Arguing next, for the challengers to the state legislature’s redistricting maps, with 30 minutes, will be Jose Garza, a private attorney in San Antonio who has been representing the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in these cases.
Just as the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling two years ago in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has become a major influence on the financing of the 2012 elections, the Court’s coming decision this Term on three legislative redistricting cases from Texas may have a strong impact on who wins some key election contests — and might even help settle control of the new U.S. House in the Congress that gathers next January. The ruling also may bring a severe test of the constitutionality of America’s most important law on the voting opportunities of minorities, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For a case that could be decided on very narrow grounds, it has developed potentially historic proportions.
Texas: Supreme Court hears dispute over Texas elections, power of key part of Voting Rights Act | The Washington Post
A federal law says states and localities with a history of discrimination cannot change any voting procedures without first getting approval from the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington. Yet Texas is asking the Supreme Court to allow the use of new, unapproved electoral districts in this year’s voting for Congress and the state Legislature.
The outcome of the high court case, to be argued Monday afternoon, could be another blow to a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. In 2009, the justices raised doubts about whether Southern states still should need approval in advance of voting changes more than 40 years after the law was enacted. The case also might help determine the balance of power in the House of Representatives in 2013, with Republicans in a stronger position if the court allows Texas to use electoral districts drawn by the GOP-dominated Legislature.
Attorney General Eric Holder says the U.S. Justice Department will move aggressively to review the plethora of new voting laws that state legislatures across the nation have passed in recent years to exclude minority voters. Get to it, Mr. Holder.
There is no better place to start than in Florida where picking and choosing voters has become a high art and low crime. And it is not just minority voters who face these new hurdles but young voters, voters who have moved into new precincts, voters whose interest in politics is newly awakened. In short, voters who aren’t part of a tightly knit group that can be counted on for party-line (dare we say, Republican) ballots in a state where Democrats outnumber GOP registered voters.
Consider the issue of restoring civil rights, including the right to vote, to people who have completed their sentences on felony convictions. Not a popular bunch, not a group easy to defend. Yet, these are people who have paid the debt demanded of them by society, and it’s in society’s best interest to give them a stake in the future of their communities.
Debates aside over whether identification requirements to vote are ploys to disenfranchise the poor or to make voter fraud easier, there’s little chance that Colorado will institute a photo ID requirement until it cleans up its own system of issuing them, according to one local state lawmaker.
Rep. Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, said that the complicated process of getting a state identification card has been a hurdle in passing legislation to require IDs. “I’m a believer in a state ID to vote but how do we streamline the process?” he asked.
He’s talked a few times with Jon Manley, assistant director of the Pueblo Department of Revenue office, about the problems and gotten an earful from constituents, too. The controversy over photo IDs has surfaced in a number of states.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently intervened to block a South Carolina law opponents charged was aimed at discouraging the poor and minorities to vote. In Wisconsin, charges flew from opponents of Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators facing a recent recall election that motor vehicle offices were either closed in Democratic areas or employees were told not to inform people that IDs could be obtained for free.
The argument goes that the poor, especially the elderly, will find it harder to obtain IDs if they have no way of getting to state offices or have to do a lot of paperwork.
The Supreme Court will attempt on Monday to untangle the political mess in Texas created by a voting rights controversy. The case could have important political consequences, and highlights a lurking issue regarding the continued viability of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark legislation passed in 1965 to protect minorities from discriminatory voting practices.
At issue are two very different sets of redistricting maps drawn up to take into account new census numbers for the state: Texas has grown by 4.3 million people since the previous census, and minorities make up the majority of the growth. Because of the population growth, Texas was awarded four additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Last spring the Republican-dominated Texas legislature passed one set of redistricting maps. But Democrats and minority rights groups immediately criticized them, arguing they did not reflect the growth of minority representation. Texas, a state with a history of past discrimination in voting, is subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires the state to get approval or “preclearance” from the Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington, D.C., for any election-related changes.
The Supreme Court next week will step into a partisan battle over remapping congressional districts in Texas, the court’s first review of political boundary-drawing resulting from the 2010 U.S. census, with elections ahead in November. At issue in Monday’s arguments will be whether Texas uses maps drawn by a U.S. court in San Antonio favoring Democrats and minorities, or maps drawn by the Republican-dominated state legislature, in the 2012 congressional and state elections.
Texas Republican officials appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that a lower court had overstepped its authority in coming up with its own redistricting plan and that it should have deferred to the state legislature’s plan. The Obama administration for the most part has supported the state Democratic Party and groups representing Hispanics and blacks before the Supreme Court, saying that parts of the state’s plan violated the federal voting rights law.
Civil rights attorneys in Nashville and Washington, D.C., appear to be laying the groundwork for legal challenges to Tennessee’s new voter identification law. A top official says the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing recent laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls, and Nashville attorneys are putting together a lawsuit that could challenge the law unless legislators reconsider when they convene Jan. 10.
But the state’s top election official and the law’s main backer in the legislature say they do not expect any changes to the measure. They say they are more worried that the lawsuits will confuse voters about the status of the law, which officially went into effect Sunday and will be noticed the first time by most Tennesseans when they go to the polls in March to vote in the Republican presidential primary.
The Justice Department’s rejection of South Carolina’s voter ID law probably won’t prevent other states from adopting similar measures, analysts say. “Unfortunately, I don’t think this is going to have a significant chilling effect,” said Wendy Weiser, a voter ID opponent and lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University law school.
The South Carolina law would have required voters to show one of five government-issued IDs — such as a drivers license or passport — before casting a ballot. Justice officials said the state didn’t show the law complied with the 1965 Voter Rights Act and didn’t justify the need for the law or prove widespread voter impersonation, which tougher ID laws are designed to prevent. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has promised to appeal.
Voting Blogs: Now the REAL Debate Can Begin: How DOJ’s SC Voter ID Objection FINALLY Brings Data to the Discussion | Doug Chapin/PEEA
Way back in late August, I blogged about the Voting Rights Act review by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of South Carolina’s new voter ID law. In that post, I said: Regardless of the outcome, DOJ’s review of SC’s photo ID laws will give us something we haven’t much of in the debate to date: hard…
The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing Texas’ recently passed Voter ID bill after a ruling Dec. 23 stated that a similar bill in South Carolina did not meet requirements of the 1965 Voter Rights Act and made it more difficult for minorities to vote. “I’m disappointed the Department of Justice is playing politics in this,” State Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, said. “I’m intrigued to see the outcome of the litigation, but at the end of the day, the Supreme Court is going to uphold it.”
Creighton said the bill would require voters to provide a Texas Driver’s License or Department of Public Safety public identification card, citizenship papers or a U.S. passport, or similar documents. For those who do not have the required document, Creighton said a DPS identification card can be obtained free of charge.
Editorials: Holder’s Voting Rights Gamble – The Supreme Court’s voter ID showdown. | Rick Hasen/Slate
On the Friday before Christmas Day, the Department of Justice formally objected to a new South Carolina law requiring voters to produce an approved form of photo ID in order to vote. That move already has drawn cheers from the left and jeers from the right. The DoJ said South Carolina could not show that its new law would not have an adverse impact on racial minorities, who are less likely to have acceptable forms of identification.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley denounced the DoJ decision blocking the law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: “It is outrageous, and we plan to look at every possible option to get this terrible, clearly political decision overturned so we can protect the integrity of our electoral process and our 10th Amendment rights.” The state’s attorney general vowed to fight the DoJ move in court, and thanks to an odd quirk in the law, the issue could get fast-tracked to the Supreme Court, which could well use it to strike down the Voting Rights Act provision as unconstitutional before the 2012 elections.
The current dispute has an eerie echo. More than 45 years ago, South Carolina also went to the Supreme Court to complain that Section 5 unconstitutionally intruded on its sovereignty. Under the 1965 Act, states with a history of racial discrimination like South Carolina could not make changes in its voting rules—from major changes like redistricting to changes as minor as moving a polling place across the street—without getting the permission of either the U.S. Department of Justice or a three-judge court in Washington, D.C. The state had to show the law was not enacted with the purpose, or effect, of making minority voters worse off than they already were.
When the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it was approving Georgia’s new House, Senate and Congressional district maps, it was the first time ever that all three Georgia maps had been “pre-cleared” on the first try.
“I am proud to say that this year was the first time Republicans ever controlled the redistricting process and both the process and the product were very different than anything Georgia has seen before,” said former state senator Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg. Seabaugh, now deputy state treasurer, served as chairman of the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee this summer.
North Carolina: Federal judge: For blacks, ‘voting rights’ include identifying Democrats on ballots | The Daily Caller
A U.S. District Court judge has rejected a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — filled when the Department of Justice barred the city of Kinston, N.C. from holding nonpartisan elections — reasoning that lack of access to party affiliation would discriminate against minority voters who otherwise wouldn’t know how to find Democratic candidates on a ballot.
The challenge was initiated after the Justice Department rejected a 2008 referendum vote in which the city of Kinston voted to stop listing candidates’ party affiliations on ballots. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department must approve changes to election law in regions with a history, however distant, of racial discrimination.
The Justice Department prevented the 2008 referendum change, arguing in part that “the elimination of party affiliation on the ballot will likely reduce the ability of blacks to elect candidates of choice.”
Texas: When is state law not enforceable? Texas awaits DOJ approval for its new voter photo ID law | State of Elections
The battle over Texas’s controversial new voter identification bill should be over. Instead, it appears to be heating up. Senate Bill 14 amends the Texas Election Code, requiring voters to present an approved form of photo identification to cast a ballot in state elections. Voters may rely on most forms of commonly-used government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Voters who are unwilling, or unable, to pay for identification are also covered; the bill creates a new form of identification called an “election identification certificate” which can be obtained at no cost from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Both the Texas House and Senate approved the bill and its photo identification requirements, following months of heated debate across the state. And, on May 27, Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law. Notwithstanding any post-enactment court challenges, gubernatorial endorsement is the final step in the legislative process—or at least that’s how things usually work in Texas.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court decided a case that may, it now appears, save Barack Obama’s chances at reëlection—and, more importantly, preserve a precious corner of American democracy.
For many years now, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been under assault. The law requires that any changes in voting rules in certain states, mostly in the South, be “pre-cleared” by the Justice Department, to make sure that they do not impinge on the voting rights of minorities. Many people in these states and elsewhere have argued that the law is now obsolete and that its pre-clearance provisions stigmatize and demean places that have long ago reformed from their racist pasts. In the 2009 case of Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, the Court had a chance to invalidate the law—and ducked. Instead, by a vote of 8-1, the Justices disposed of the case on procedural grounds and left the larger fight for another day. (Clarence Thomas dissented, arguing that the Voting Rights Act is indeed obsolete and unconstitutional.) The Voting Rights Act, and its pre-clearance provisions, remained intact.
The importance of the Northwest Austin case was apparent last week when the Justice Department rejected South Carolina’s new law to impose a photo-identification requirement for voters in 2012. “According to the state’s statistics, there are 81,938 minority citizens who are already registered to vote and who lack D.M.V.-issued identification,” Thomas E. Perez, the chief of the department’s civil-rights division, said in a letter to South Carolina officials. The only reason the Justice Department had the chance to rule on the South Carolina changes is because of the pre-clearance rules. (South Carolina may challenge the Justice Department decision in court, thus possibly setting up another test of the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court.)
Texas: Rejection of South Carolina voter ID law may put Texas’ law on shakier ground | statesman.com
The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday rejected as discriminatory a South Carolina law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The action by the department’s civil rights division, coupled with Attorney General Eric Holder’s call 10 days earlier in Austin for more aggressive federal review of such laws, appears to increase the likelihood that the Texas version could meet a similar fate. Texas Republicans criticized the decision, calling it improper and vowing to defend Texas’ voter ID law.
The Justice Department said the South Carolina law makes it harder for members of minority groups to cast ballots, to the point that tens of thousands of them might be turned away at the polls because they lack the required photo ID. The law requires a state-issued driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. military ID or a U.S. passport.
The Texas law, which was signed by Gov. Rick Perry in May, requires voters to show a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a Texas driver’s license, Department of Public Safety identification card, state concealed handgun license, U.S. military ID or U.S. passport. Like the South Carolina law, the Texas law needs approval from the Justice Department under the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act. Such “pre-clearance” to ensure that minority political power is not harmed is required in states that failed to protect minority voting rights in the past.
Even as the feds move to block South Carolina from requiring voters to show a photo ID, a handful of other states are set to ring in 2012 with new laws mandating that voters produce picture identification cards before they are permitted to cast ballots. Beginning on Jan. 1, new laws will take effect in Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas requiring residents present a certified government-issued ID if they want to vote, according to a list of new 2012 laws compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Civil rights groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which co-authored an extensive report earlier this month detailing 25 voter restriction measures that passed in 2011 – eight of which were photo ID laws — say the measures represent a coordinated conservative effort to repress the voting rights of minority groups.
“Many surprises came out of the 2008 elections, including record turnout, registration and participation,” said Hilary Shelton, NAACP’s Washington bureau director, who called the number of voter laws that passed last year “unprecedented.”
The Justice Department on Friday blocked a new South Carolina law that would require voters to present photo identification, saying the law would disproportionately suppress turnout among eligible minority voters.
The move was the first time since 1994 that the department has exercised its powers under the Voting Rights Act to block a voter identification law. It followed a speech this month by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that signaled an aggressive stance in reviewing a wave of new state voting restrictions, largely enacted by Republicans in the name of fighting fraud.
In a letter to the South Carolina government, Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney for civil rights, said that allowing the new requirement to go into effect would have “significant racial disparities.”
South Carolina: Justice Department rejects South Carolina voter ID law, calling it discriminatory | The Washington Post
The Justice Department on Friday entered the divisive national debate over new state voting laws, rejecting South Carolina’s measure requiring photo-identification at the polls as discriminatory against minority voters.
The decision by Justice’s Civil Rights Division could heighten political tensions over the new laws, which critics say could depress turnout among minorities and others who helped elect President Obama in 2008. A dozen states this year passed laws requiring voters to present state-issued photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Although Democratic governors vetoed four of the measures, liberal and civil rights groups have raised alarms about the remaining laws. Opponents of the laws say they would discriminate against minorities and others, such as low-income voters, because some don’t have the necessary photo identification and lack the means to easily obtain ID cards. Conservatives and other supporters of the tighter laws say they are needed to combat voter fraud.
The U.S. Department of Justice will block the voter ID provisions of an election law passed in South Carolina earlier this year because the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents, DOJ said in a letter to the state on Friday. The decision places the federal government squarely in opposition to the types of voter ID requirements that have swept through mostly Republican-controlled state legislatures.
Officials in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division found a significant racial disparity in the data provided by South Carolina, which must have changes to its election laws precleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, because of past history of discrimination. The data demonstrated that registered non-white voters were 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack the specific type of photo identification required to exercise their constitutional rights, according to a letter sent to South Carolina and obtained by TPM.
“Put differently, although non-white voters comprised 30.4% of the state’s registered voters, they constituted 34.2% of registered voters who did not have the requisite DMV-issued identification to vote,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, who heads the Civil Rights Division, wrote in the letter to South Carolina. “Non-white voters were therefore disproportionally represented, to a significant degree, in the group of registered voters who, under the proposed law, would be rendered ineligible to go to the polls and participate in the election.”
For nearly three years, Republicans have attacked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on national security and civil rights issues. For months, they have criticized him over a gun-trafficking investigation gone awry, with dozens of leaders calling for his resignation. Last week, more than 75 members of Congress co-sponsored a House resolution expressing “no confidence” in his leadership. The intensifying heat on Mr. Holder comes as the Justice Department is stepping into some of the most politically divisive social issues of the day, including accusing an Arizona sheriff known for his crackdowns on illegal immigrants of racial profiling, scrutinizing new restrictions on voting in search of signs that they could lower turnout among minorities and telling judges that a law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
As Mr. Holder’s third year as attorney general draws to a close, no member of President Obama’s cabinet has drawn more partisan criticism. In an interview last week, Mr. Holder said he had no intention of resigning before the administration’s term was up, although he said he had made no decision about whether he would continue after 2012 should the president win re-election. “I think that what I’m doing is right,” Mr. Holder said. “And election-year politics, which intensifies everything, is not going to drive me off that course.”
With F.B.I. agents standing guard outside his hotel room on Tuesday, Mr. Holder spoke hours before delivering a speech at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library here that criticized the largely Republican-led efforts to put new restrictions on voting in the name of fighting fraud. At that moment, protesters were rallying outside the library, some in support of stricter voter identification laws and others holding signs urging Mr. Holder to resign over the disputed gun-trafficking investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious. Several dozen jeered when his motorcade arrived.
Editorials: The Texas Redistricting Case and the Likely Continued Erosion of the Section 5 Process | Concurring Opinions
The Supreme Court has decided to take up Texas’ redistricting plan on an expedited briefing and argument schedule. Even though it’s not directly a case involving preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, functionally the Court’s decision will likely have significant implications for Section 5. While it’s never easy to predict what the Court might do, as I explain below, I think that ultimately the Court will find a way to continue down its recent path of decisions limiting the procedural protections afforded to minority voters by Section 5.
Boiled down to the essentials, the facts of the Texas case are relatively simple. Texas is a jurisdiction covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. So in order to implement any redistricting plan, Texas needs to go through the process of securing preclearance (or pre-approval) from the federal government—either from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or from a three-judge panel of the D.C. District Court where DOJ serves as defendant. DOJ had some issues with the substance of Texas’ congressional and State House plans, alleging that the plans were discriminatory in effect and purpose in their treatment of Latino voters. Texas sought preclearance of its plans by moving for summary judgment, but the D.C. District Court decided that DOJ had created material issues of fact that necessitated a trial.
Another attempt to redraw political districts in Texas brings yet another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of politicians are anxiously waiting to see if the nine judges in Washington will give them a fighting chance to keep or win a seat in the Texas House, Texas Senate or Congress. With dozens of incumbents retiring, the stakes are high and who ends up winning depends largely on what the final district maps look like.
One proposed map guarantees Republican dominance for the next 10 years. The other would likely give Democrats a big boost. And the Supreme Court could order a new, third version.
American politicians face this problem every 10 years when states redraw political maps based on the latest census. The state needs to ensure every political district has roughly the same number of people. Texas law gives that task to incumbent members of the Legislature, and they seize upon this rare opportunity to choose the voters they want. Since their first priority is to get re-elected, they draw their districts to suit them. Then the party in power usually tries to draw districts that will hurt their opponents.
There has been a coordinated attack this year on voting rights. More than a dozen states have enacted laws that are intended to make it more burdensome for Americans to cast a ballot, which President Lyndon Johnson called “the basic right, without which all others are meaningless.” New requirements – for special IDs, for example–will reduce turnout among minorities, the uneducated, the poor, the elderly, the newly arrived, students and other groups that traditionally vote for Democratic candidates. (For an explanation of why voter ID laws have a discriminatory effect, see my previous post on the subject.)
Now Attorney General Eric Holder is fighting back. I was delighted to hear Mr. Holder deliver a powerful speech in Texas yesterday, during which he said his department is facing five separate lawsuits aimed at killing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which gives the Justice Department the power to review any changes to voting rules in 16 places that have a history of discrimination.
Harris County Commissioners Court approved an order this morning splitting 12 voting precincts into 27 to comply with interim redistricting maps produced by federal courts in San Antonio and Houston. Some of the slices produced humorous results.
Only one of the 12 voting precincts was affected by the local lawsuit, which Latino activists filed against the county in August, alleging its adopted redistricting map diluted Hispanic voting power in the southeast commissioner precinct, Precinct 2. The suit is ongoing.
Supporters of requiring photo identification for voting in North Carolina say that it protects the integrity of the vote against identity theft and fraud. Opponents, however, aren’t convinced. N.C. House Bill 351, Restore Confidence in Government, requiring that voters provide photo ID was ratified in mid-June. Within a week, Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed it.
“We shouldn’t be surprised by how far the governor will go to score political points with the liberal wing of her party,” President Pro Tempore Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said after her veto. “A measure that ensures voters are who they say they are is a no-brainer, and most North Carolinians agree. It’s a shame Gov. Perdue is playing politics with the integrity of elections.” But opponents said that this argument doesn’t hold up under deeper analysis.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, during a Dec. 1 conference call, that investigations show that there is no “significant amount of fraud” including one investigation done under former President George Bush’s administration. “Even the Bush administration’s White House was unable to come up with any credible or any significant amount of fraud,” Schultz said. “The only evidence was incidental or occasional and certainly not the widespread voter identity theft that they were accusing folks of.”
If it’s presidential campaign season, it must be time for another furor over voter fraud and voter suppression. As the Democrats did in 2008, they are again charging that Republicans are trying to use photo identification laws and other changes in election laws to winnow out would-be Democratic voters.
The difference this time: six more states have enacted laws, or strengthened their existing laws, requiring voters to show a form of photo identification such as a driver’s license in order to cast a ballot. The standout among the new voter ID states: Wisconsin, which may have a recall election next year for Republican Gov. Scott Walker. It also has a marquee Senate race and will likely be a battleground in the presidential race.
Last week Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz launched a new mobilization effort, saying, “Republicans across the country have engaged in a full-scale attack on the right to vote, seeking ways to restrict or limit voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their own partisan advantage.”
The NAACP launches a campaign Monday against new state laws that tighten voter qualifications. The NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, two separate organizations, will release a report that finds the laws tend to suppress minority voting — a trend the report says emerged after unprecedented minority turnout in the 2008 election and Census figures that show people of color gaining a larger share of the population.
The groups will send the document to congressional leaders, state attorneys general, secretaries of state and the Department of Justice in hopes of prompting legislation to roll back laws requiring government-issued identification at the polls and reducing the number of early-voting days and other measures they say could disenfranchise as many as 5 million voters. The NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will lead a march to United Nations headquarter in New York on Saturday to draw attention to the issue.
Editorials: Our View: Texas Voter ID law battle wastes energy while pros, cons are questionable | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
While Voter ID advocates rail against voter fraud and Voter ID foes warn of certain voter disenfranchisement, the rest of us are left to endure the faux crisis visited upon the sanctity of the ballot and the ballot box. Whether Texas’ law passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature this summer requiring voters to present photo identification to cast a ballot goes into effect depends on whether the U.S. Department of Justice gives its OK, which is required under the Voting Rights Act. And the DOJ appears more sympathetic to foes of the law than advocates.
Regardless of which way the DOJ goes, the matter will likely be appealed by the losing side — which means in addition to enduring the shrill partisan battle over a matter we’re not all that sure is worthy of waging, Texas taxpayers will pick up the tab for the ensuing courtroom showdowns.
Here far away from the frontline of this incivil tussle, it’s not all that clear Texas needs to require all voters present photo IDs to counter fraud, but it’s also not clear the new law requiring it is as onerous as foes claim it to be. Aside from stories of Lyndon Johnson’s having been the beneficiary in one case of ballot-box stuffing and the victim in another, the evidence of voter fraud in the Lone Star State is more the stuff of rumors and innuendo than credible evidence.