March 2, 2012
The Justice Department has blocked a new law in Texas requiring voters to show a photo ID, saying that it disproportionately harms Hispanic residents.
The action is the second time in three months that the Obama administration has blocked a state voter ID law. In December, the Justice Department struck down South Carolina’s new law requiring photo identification at the polls, saying it discriminated against minority voters.
In the case of South Carolina, officials said the South Carolina law adversely affected African American voters. In Texas, the law, signed last year by Gov. Rick Perry (R), discriminates against Hispanics, the Justice Department said.
“Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card,” wrote Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, in a letter to Keith Ingram, director of elections for the Texas Secretary of State.
The Justice Department’s challenge signals an escalating national legal battle over voter ID laws as the presidential campaign intensifies. Eight states passed voter ID laws last year, and critics say the new statues could hurt turnout among minorities and others who helped elect President Obama in 2008. But conservative supporters and Republican attorneys general say the tight laws are needed to combat voter fraud.
This article was posted: Monday, March 12, 2012 at 9:37 am