DOJ Blocks Texas Voter ID Law
The controversial Texas Voter Identification law, one of Gov. Rick Perry’s top priorities during the 2011 Legislature, has been stalled by the U.S. Justice Department, and it may not go into effect in time for next year’s elections.
As required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Texas Secretary of State submitted the Voter ID bill to the Justice Department for pre-clearance in July, but DOJ said it needs more information to help it determine whether the new law would discriminate against minorities, particularly Hispanics.
DOJ wants to know the number of registered voters in each Texas county – identified by race and Spanish surname – who have a Texas driver’s license or other legal photo identification.
Texas officials say that information is virtually impossible to provide, because the state doesn’t register voters by race or ethnicity.
Republicans pushed the Voter ID measure saying it would reduce voter fraud. Democrats argued there is little or no evidence of voter fraud in Texas, and claimed the bill was a transparent effort to make it harder for low income people and minorities to vote.
The Justice Department has 60 days to consider a completed application, but the review period will not start until the agency actually receives the requested information.
This raises the possibility that the Voter ID law won’t be in place in time for the March 6 primaries.