Victory in Texas Voter ID Case
PATH TO BALLOT BOX CLEARED FOR TEXANS AS FEDERAL COURT STRIKES DOWN STATE’S VOTER ID LAW
Three-Judge Panel Rules Restrictive Photo ID Law Violates Voting Rights Act
Contact: Rich Robinson, Advancement Project at 202-728-9557, x338 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) – In a ruling that further clears the path for Texas citizens to exercise their right to vote, the U.S. District Court today struck down the state’s voter ID law. After hearing arguments from attorneys representing the state of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice, the three-judge federal panel determined that the law’s requirement for voters to present strict forms of photo identification at the polls would have a discriminatory impact on Hispanic and African-American citizens. Saying that “everything Texas has submitted as affirmative evidence is unpersuasive, invalid or both,” the court ruled that the photo ID law is racially retrogressive in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
“The court got it absolutely correct in upholding the fundamental right to vote for all Texans,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “This decision has major implications not only for the up to 1.4 million of eligible Texans who lack photo ID, and who can now access the ballot without an added hurdle, but also for the fate of voter ID laws in other states.”
Texas’ law required voters to present a state-issued driver’s license or identification card, a military photo ID, a passport, a U.S. citizenship certificate with a photo, or a concealed-carry handgun license before being allowed to vote. Today’s decision blocks it from being implemented.
During the trial the Department of Justice (DOJ) presented evidence that as many as 1.4 million eligible Texans lack acceptable identification, and that a disproportionate share of those voters are Hispanic or African-American. DOJ attorneys also showed that in-person voter fraud in Texas is virtually nonexistent, a conclusion shared by the nonpartisan Texas House Research Organization.
The DOJ had opposed Texas’ voter ID law in March, denying the pre-clearance which the state is required to get under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Prior to that move, on September 13, 2011, Advancement Project and other civil rights organizations sent a letter to the Department, calling on the Civil Rights Division to reject the discriminatory law. Advancement Project also delivered a petition containing 120,000 signatures, urging the Department to deny pre-clearance of the Texas law. Advancement Project also represented the Southwest Workers Union during the trial.
“The panel’s decision reaffirms the necessity of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda Hair. “Texas has a long and infamous record of suppressing the minority vote, from 1930s legislation that excluded African Americans from primary elections to intimidation at polling sites. The voter ID law is just the latest example of discriminatory measures that have not yet been relegated to history.”
The Texas voter ID requirement is part of a spate of state laws introduced by conservative legislatures nationwide to restrict registration and voting. These measures stand to affect as many as 5 million Americans – mostly seniors, minorities, working poor, people with disabilities and students – from voting because they lack acceptable ID.
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