As widely reported, last week a federal court rejected a Texas law that would require voters to present photo identification to election officials before being allowed to vote. This decision comes on the heels of another federal court decision that found the Republican-controlled Texas legislature had intentionally discriminated against Hispanics in drawing new legislative districts. The Texas voter ID law was signed into law last year. However, the law has never gone into effect because Texas is a covered jurisdiction under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and must receive either administrative preclearance from the Department of Justice or judicial preclearance from a federal court that a proposed change in its election laws (such as a requirement to present a photo ID) will not have the effect of diminishing minority voters’ rights, and was not enacted with a specific intent to discriminate against such voters. The Justice Department earlier objected to the new Texas law concluding it would have a disparate negative impact on minority voters. The court last week reached a similar conclusion that the legislation would impose unlawful burdens on poor minority voters.
Because voter ID laws in Indiana or Georgia were found constitutional, Texas had argued its law should be upheld. The State’s argument, while predictable, misses the mark. This court was not asked to decide the constitutionality of Section 5 or of the Texas voter ID law; it was asked to decide whether the Texas law met the statutory requirements of Section 5. The court concluded Texas had failed to meet its burden.
Texas elected to impose requirements that the court described as “the most stringent in the country.” The State could have chosen to allow other forms of identification, or even provided relief to alleviate the financial burden and inconvenience to Texas’ poorest citizens (many or whom are black or Hispanic) of obtaining a photo ID. Now the State finds its options limited primarily to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the denial under Section 5, or a direct challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5.
Full Article: Alberto Gonzales: Texas Voter ID Misstep | Fox News Latino.