Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has opened a new front in the state’s war with the federal government over election law, directly challenging the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The new argument was voiced Wednesday in a lawsuit that asks a federal court in Washington, D.C., to approve Texas’ controversial Voter ID law, which the U.S. Department of Justice blocked Monday citing concerns that up to a million eligible voters could be harmed. The lawsuit challenges a requirement for states with a history of discriminating against minority voters, including Texas, to submit proposed election law changes to the federal government for approval. Either the Justice Department or a federal court must determine the changes will not disenfranchise minority voters before they can take effect, a process known as preclearance.
“It certainly raises the stakes,” said Richard Hasen, an elections law professor at the University of California Irvine. He added that it seems Abbott is now willing to take on the Voting Rights Act, while a previous version of the lawsuit danced around the issue.
State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, a veteran member of the Legislature, condemned Abbott’s argument. “This has been one of the few areas of true bipartisanship because everyone understands the importance of the right to vote and the struggle for millions to achieve it,” Ellis said, noting that the state’s Republican U.S. senators — Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn — voted to preserve the Voting Rights Act when it came up for renewal in 2006.
Full Article: Voting Rights Act is attacked – San Antonio Express-News.