Holder vows to stop Texas from implementing voter ID laws

Katie McHugh Associate Editor
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In a speech given to the Nation Urban League annual conference on Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to halt Texas’s implementation of a 2011 voter ID law that the state implemented after the Supreme Court struck down a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on June 25.

“Today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a pre-clearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” Holder said. “This request to ‘bail in’ the state — and require it to obtain ‘pre-approval’ from either the Department or a federal court before implementing future voting changes — is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional voting discrimination is found.”

Holder also reiterated a long-standing talking point: Texas intentionally sought to suppress minority votes by requiring they show either a driver’s license or other personal identification with a photo to cast a ballot.

“Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder — as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized — we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a pre-clearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices,” Holder continued.

Texas sought pre-clearance from the Voting Rights Act in 2011, but the DOJ denied the state’s request in March 2012 after finding that Hispanic residents were more likely to live in households that did not own a vehicle, and the sizable number of non-operational driver’s license centers placed an undue burden on residents seeking to obtain proper identification.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry slammed the DOJ’s 2012 decision, calling it “pervasive federal overreach.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hailed the Supreme Court’s June decision, declaring that Texas would immediately implement both voter ID laws and begin using redistricting maps. On Thursday, soon after Holder’s speech, he announced his opposition to Holder’s pre-clearance plans.

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