AUGUST 26, 2013
The Obama administration just sued Texas over a voter identification law passed to prevent election fraud, asserting in a federal complaint that it was designed to “disproportionately impact Hispanic and African-American voters.”
Apparently the administration didn’t read—or has chosen to ignore—the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling stripping the feds of power over state election laws like Texas’s. The decision, issued in late June, struck down a decades-long federal preapproval requirement for certain states to enact changes to election laws. This was established under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to keep states with a history of discrimination in check.
But the Supreme Court found that the portion of the law is unconstitutional and can no longer be used to establish the “preclearance” requirements. “The conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions,” the ruling says. Furthermore, the high court found “disparate treatment of the states” because the preclearance measure only applied to nine. This “imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs,” according to the ruling.
The court stressed that the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment empowers states—not the federal government— to regulate elections. Not good enough for President Obama and his Department of Justice (DOJ). Nearly a dozen states have passed voter ID laws in the last few years to prevent election fraud, but the administration and many powerful Democrats (Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says they are a “full-scale-assault” on minority voters) insist the measures are racist and taxpayer dollars will be used to fight them.
In the Texas case the administration accuses legislators of designing a measure to “disproportionately impact Hispanic and African-American voters.” Passed in 2011 the law requires voters to present an official government photo ID at the polls. This can include a driver’s license, personal identification card or concealed handgun license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID bearing the person’s photo or a U.S. citizenship certificate with a picture.
The goal is to prevent voter fraud, state officials say, pointing out that a Texas woman was recently arrested for illegally voting five times in the same election. The DOJ claims in its complaint that obtaining an acceptable ID will “impose a substantial burden” on minority voters, resulting in their “disenfranchisement.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is named in the DOJ’s lawsuit, says voter IDs have nothing to do with race and are available for free to anyone who needs one. The administration’s claim that voter ID measures are a “racist plot to disenfranchise minority voters” is outrageous and offensive to the overwhelming majority of Texans of all races who support the ballot integrity measure, Abbot said.
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