Home » Uncategorized » Texas Voter I.D. Law Discriminates Against Minorities and the Poor

Texas Voter I.D. Law Discriminates Against Minorities and the Poor

The Houston Press blog presents a graphics-and-map heavy post that highlights the specific geographic effects of the Texas photo I.D. requirements for voting. The story is here: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/news/2014/08/data_shows_poor_democrats_in_houston_least_likely_to_have_voter_id.php

Rick Hasen had cited this story without comment, (http://electionlawblog.org/?p=64697), and I think it’s an important one that is deserving of more attention.

My first reaction on reading the headline was to say, “Well, duh.” Of course the 2011 voter I.D. law is discriminatory – suppression of Democratic Party voting in the large urban centers of Texas was whole point of the law in the first place. Except that it is handy to be able to show someone in graphic terms exactly how the voter I.D. law applies to suppress voting.

The Houston Press story cites the “official” write up in votetexas.gov regarding the legality of the Texas law, which reads:

While pending review within the judicial system, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, which effectively ended all pending litigation. As a result, voters are now required to present an approved form of photo identification in order to vote in all Texas Elections.

To say that this official statement is an outright lie is a bit harsh, but I wish the Houston Press story had pointed out that this, shall we say, inaccurate statement repeats the tissue-thin bravado of the State’s legal pleadings in the current Federal lawsuit over the 2011 voter I.D. law. It was not the case that judicial review of voter I.D. was settled in any way by Shelby County v. Holder. The Texas law was determined by the Federal District Court, District of Columbia, to have violated the Voting Rights Act, (Texas v. Holder, 888 F.Supp.2d 113 (D.D.C. 2012)) (the text of the decision is available here, at: http://www.lawyerscommittee.org/admin/site/documents/files/texas-v-holder-opinion.pdf ) and the State’s appeal of that determination to the U.S. Supreme Court was vacated by the Shelby County decision.

The question of the legality of the 2011 voter I.D. is still very much up in the air, and is the subject of a major lawsuit (Veasey et al., v. Perry et al., filed in the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, and currently twisting its way toward trial, despite endless foot-dragging on the part of the State). For a full background on the status of this suit, see the excellent trial-court document repository at Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University: http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/VeaseyV.Perry.php

A more accurate official statement on votetexas.org would have been to say that the injunction against enforcement of the 2011 law was dissolved in 2013 pending a final resolution of the matter, and that the State has decided to enforce that law until ordered to do otherwise by the courts.

1 Comment

  1. […] written about these matters here, here, here, here, and, most recently, here, so its good to see these problems getting wider national […]

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