Feds: Voter ID Law "Legally Unenforceable," Can't Rule Out "Discriminatory Purpose"

Categories: Politics

voter-id.jpg
State legislation requiring voters to present state-issued identification such as a driver's license, a concealed-carry permit, or a U.S. passport or military ID was rejected Monday morning by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Because we conclude that the state has failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the proposed law will not have a retrogressive effect, we do not make any determination as to whether the state has established that the proposed changes were adopted with no discriminatory purpose," DOJ said in a letter to Texas' director of elections.

Citing census data, DOJ points out that nearly 22 percent of registered voters in Texas are Hispanic. But they comprise 38 percent of the voting population lacking a state-issued ID. Hispanic registered voters are anywhere from 46 to 120 percent more likely to lack state-issued ID. The state has not "met its burden of showing that the proposed changes have neither the purpose nor the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color or membership in a language minority group."

Update:

Nor has it explained, DOJ continued, why a concealed-carry license is kosher, but tribal identification isn't. It also fails to account for the role economic hardship plays in getting an ID. Some 7.3 percent of Hispanic households don't have a car, compared with 3.8 percent of non-Latino households. Considering that 81 of Texas' 254 counties don't have a DPS office, the feds have concluded that the law would deter registered Hispanic voters from exercising their constitutional rights.

"Even after submitting data that show over 600,000 registered voters do not have have either a driver's license or personal identification card issued by DPS -- and that a disproportionate share of those registered voters are Hispanic -- the state has failed to propose, much less adopt, any program for individuals who have to travel a significant distance to a DPS office, who have limited access to transportation, or who are unable to get to a DPS office during their hours of operation. This failure is particularly noteworthy given Texas's geography and demographics, which arguably make the necessity for mitigating measures greater than in other states. The state also has not developed any specific proposals to educate either voters about how to comply with the new identification requirement or poll officials about how to enforce the proposed change."

In essence, the DOJ has determined that the State of Texas hasn't proved that this isn't simply another perennial GOP effort to undermine constituencies who may not cast a ballot their way. As the former political director for the Republican Party of Texas once said in the Houston Chronicle, "Among Republicans it is an 'article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections,' Royal Masset said. He doesn't agree with that, but does believe that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a drop-off in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote."

A spokesperson for the Texas Secretary of State didn't respond as of this posting. Until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rules on a challenge by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Texas' voter ID law remains "legally unenforceable."

Update: The Texas Secretary of State office sends this statement: "The Dept. of Justice's decision is extremely disappointing, especially since the data they demanded came from matching two separate data sets never designed to be matched, and their agency was warned that matches from these data sets would be very misleading," said Secretary of State Hope Andrade. "My office will continue working with the Texas Attorney General's Office in seeking to implement the will of the citizens of Texas, as enacted by our duly elected representatives in the Texas Legislature."

Now, about those data sets: According to the DOJ, the state never explained why there was such a striking difference between the census data sets whose origins are only four months apart. "More significantly, it declined to offer an opinion on which of the two data sets is more accurate. Accordingly, we have considered both in reviewing your submission," DOJ writes.

Andrade seems to be insinuating that the DOJ has conflated the two census data sets, thereby skewing its take. This is misleading. Per Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the DOJ Civil Rights Division: "Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver's license or a personal identification card issued by the DPS, and that disparity is statistically significant."

My Voice Nation Help
45 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Russp
Russp

Just a question but how does one register to vote in the state of Texas if you don't have some form of ID? 

Mavdog
Mavdog

a citizen can register to vote without a form of ID, but if you don't have some form of ID when you register you must show an ID when you actually go to vote on election day.

DaTruth
DaTruth

I challenge anyone to bring forth an illegal alien who has registered to vote and has voted. It has never been done and never will because it simply does not happen.

Furthermore let's assume it does happen. How does having a picture ID prevent this alleged fraud of fiction? Any illegal alien can walk down to the DPS and get a picture ID right now and then proceed to register to vote with it.

Russp
Russp

Is it really that easy to get an ID in this state?

DaTruth
DaTruth

And to add to that. You don't even have to have a picture ID to register to vote in the first place. Fill out the application online. Mail it to your county elections office and boom. You have a voter card.

Mike
Mike

The Attorney General is just another political hack. He does whatever in the President's political agenda. When it gets to the courts, probably to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts and the group will overturn him. If we are lucky, they may use it to finally overturn this relic of the 60's, the extra scrutiny based on what the country was like 50 years ago. The Court is not going to like having the same thing they just approved in one state made illegal in another state.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I love when these idiots talk about this being the "will of the citizens of Texas", what a total crock, it was a bill pushed through by a manchild of a governor. Texans of all stripes need to join forces and toss these right-wing carpetbaggers out of our statehouse and the governors office..

Old Marshmallow
Old Marshmallow

This could all be fixed by reinstating the Poll Tax.  Show your receipt and step in line for the voting booth!

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

Requiring an ID and making it difficult for certain groups to obtain it is very similar to a Poll Tax. I think that's what the DOJ is saying.

Larry Linn
Larry Linn

 How would the voter ID requirement be enforced upon absentee ballots? How are the poll workers going to be trained to verify the ID? What if there are legitimate disputes? Will the poll workers be vulnerable to lawsuits?

pak152
pak152

"On top of all that, the number of people who don’t already have a photo ID is incredibly small. An American University survey in Maryland, Indiana, and Mississippi found that less than one-half of 1 percent of registered voters lacked a government-issued ID, and a 2006 survey of more than 36,000 voters found that only “23 people in the entire sample–less than one-tenth of one percent of reported voters” were unable to vote because of an ID requirement. What about those who don’t have photo IDs? Von Spakovsky notes that “every state that has passed a voter ID law has also ensured that the very small percentage of individuals who do not have a photo ID can easily obtain one for free if they cannot afford one.”"http://blog.heritage.org/2012/...

Branden Helms
Branden Helms

The problem people like you don't understand is that voter ID laws aren't discriminatory by themselves. It is Texas, that allowed things like concealed carry laws, but not student ID. If a Green Card were acceptable, then it would have been a harder decision. As it is, allowing only certain forms (that uncoincidentally favor the party in power) is the problem.

pak152
pak152

 I guess you forgot but Green Card holders aren't citizens and therefore aren't allowed to vote. to vote one must be a residence of the state, if you are a student and you want to vote then you establish residency and get a Texas DL or photo id, but then you aren't allowed to vote in the state from which you came. as for concealed carry laws they fall in line with the Second Amendment.Individuals who wish to obtain a CCL must provide fingerprintshttp://www.txdps.state.tx.us/a... this ensures that convicted criminals can't obtain a CCL

just like other states with vote id laws Texas allows for a provisional vote

"A voter who fails to present the required identification may cast a provisional ballot.  The voter must present, not later than the sixth day after the date of the election, the required form of identification to the voter registrar for examination OR the voter may execute, in the presence of the voter registrar, an affidavit under penalty of perjury stating that the voter has a religious objection to being photographed or that the voter does not have identification as a result of a natural disaster declared by the president or the governor which occurred not earlier than 45 days before the date the ballot was cast. "http://www.ncsl.org/legislatur...

pak152
pak152

so if the DOJ finds that voter id laws are discriminatory will they soon be telling everyone else that requires a photo id that they are discriminating? so far today i've had to show photo id 5 times. When I voted last in last Friday's primary in  Virginia I showed not only a photo id but I was asked to pronounce my full name as well as my residential address. one would think that liberal/progressives would be in favor of voter id laws until one realizes that they aren't because they are already over registering people. just look at the various criminal prosecutions conducted against ACORN for voter registration fraud. voter ids eliminate the possible of an individual voting twice.

Now the Pew trust is not exactly a conservative trust fund but recently they did  a study about voter rolls"A new study finds that nearly 2 million dead people remain on voter registration rolls. So tell us again why Democrats oppose voter ID laws that would help prevent these errant registrations from being exploited?The Pew Center on the States study found that our country's voter registration system is "plagued with errors and inefficiencies." That's putting it mildly."http://news.investors.com/arti...

and IIRC Democrats and other liberal/progressives fought long and hard against the clean up of these voter rolls. wonder why???

Powerline blog put up an interesting post the other day that included a pretty damning videohttp://www.powerlineblog.com/a...

finally I'll close with this"A new state law requires those who buy industrial drain cleaners and other caustic substances to provide photo identification and sign a log."http://chicago.cbslocal.com/20...

haven't seen anything about DOJ filing suit about that law.

oh shoot couldn't pass up this"The fraud denialists also must have missed the recent news coverage of the double voters in North Carolina and the fraudster in Tunica County, Miss. — a member of the NAACP’s local executive committee — who was sentenced in April to five years in prison for voting in the names of ten voters, including four who were deceased. And the story of the former deputy chief of staff for Washington mayor Vincent Gray, who was forced to resign after news broke that she had voted illegally in the District of Columbia even though she was a Maryland resident. Perhaps they would like a copy of an order from a federal immigration court in Florida on a Cuban immigrant who came to the U.S. in April 2004 and promptly registered and voted in the November election."http://blog.heritage.org/2012/...

Mavdog
Mavdog

The Pew Center study that you referenced does not endorse the use of ID requirements, it calls for better means of voter registration and use of modern database management to "clean up" deficient rolls.

The instances of detected violations in registration and voting which you mention in your post show two things: one, when there are those who violate the law they are typically caught, and two, there isn't a large voter fraud problem to begin with.

The Voter ID law is how the republican party is leveraging the unsupported claim of widespread voter fraud in an attempt to decrease predominate democrat voters from voting.

If the republican party were truly interested in protecting the accuracy and integrity of the plebiscite the republicans would be focused on implementing the items that the Pew study recommended. The fact that the republican party isn't proposing ANY of those suggested reforms put forth by Pew shows that they are NOT interested in protecting the integrity of the vote.

pak152
pak152

voter registration fraud is the first step in voting fraud. If i register 5 times under 5 different names and addresses then I can vote 5 times, but it becomes more difficult if i have to produce a valid photo id. this is why ACORN and the Democrats work so hard to expand the voter rollsjust watch this videohttp://youtu.be/PLSjL--qvsw

Mavdog
Mavdog

"voter registration fraud is the first step in voting fraud. If i register 5 times under 5 different names and addresses then I can vote 5 times, but it becomes more difficult if i have to produce a valid photo id. this is why ACORN and the Democrats work so hard to expand the voter rolls"

First of all, currently Texas voter registration requires the applicant to provide their SS#, a drivers license #, or other validation that accompanies the registration. If those validtions are not provided when one registers, they must provide validation when they want to vote using that registration. This is before the voter ID law is implemented. Consequently if a person wants to commit voter registration fraud by registering multiple times, they would need to provide multiple different validations. Not impossible but unlikely hurdle to complete.

Second, the Pew study points to the lack of modern database management as the problem, not some wild theory of voter registration fraud (this is due to the difficulty in a person successfully registering multiple times). Apparently you did not read the Pew Center report that was linked in your post. That's sorta odd, don't you think? One would expect that if you want to cite the report, you would look to see what the heck it says....and it does NOT support your contention.

Last, why would anyone actually oppose wider and more effecive voter registration? Are you of the opinion that FEWER people should vote? Do you actually advocate making voter registration more difficult so that there is less citizen participation in elections? really?

all I can say is wow. next thing we'll see from you is advocating a poll tax, or some sort of "test" a voter must complete before they can exercise their fundamental right of voting.

just ridiculous. absolutely inane.

Sa
Sa

Yup, exactly what I expected to happen.  Now i suppose the state will waste our tax dollars suing over this.

I'm really, really, *really* tired of our current Lege.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

They already have, are and will.  The filed a declaratory judgment suit in DC Federal Court weeks ago.  Abbott knew his goofy law wouldn't pass muster.  But he's not interested in legislation.  He's interested in being Governor.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

The DOJ did a good job outlining in this opnion the State of Texas's problems and lack of evidence supporting this absurdly discriminatory law.  The Leg and Goodhair could have actually crafted a Voter ID law that might have passed muster.  But as they say, pigs get greedy; hogs get slaughtered.

elsando
elsando

Some who "don't own a car" have a car but it isn't registered. Sure enough, they don't have a driver' license - and of course no insurance. Why do I think these folks might not be terribly interested in voting? What would cause them to obtain a ballot?

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

I support Voter ID laws. But, until the following deficiencies are corrected, I don't support the Texas Voter ID law:1. There are 81 counties in Texas that do not have a DPS office. This makes it very difficult for those without personal transportation in those counties to even get an ID.2. Tribal government IDs are not acceptable under the law. 

Imagepimp
Imagepimp

 I'd add that a student identification card should be accepted as well.

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

Actually, I can see not accepting the student ID cards. The ID Card only means you are a student at the university, not a resident there. While going to UT Arlington, I knew students who commuted from as far away as Greenville. 

UncleScrappy
UncleScrappy

They dont want to recognize Tribal Govt Quasi Cards because they are just like the Mexican ID Card. Just say whatever you want & they will print one for you. Doesnt really lend itself to authenticity,

demorats need to get over this Winning by any means (Legal or not) mentality. All Texas is trying to say when whoever wins an election. They Truly & Really won by the vote of the Citizenary. (And that doesnt include Convicted Felons, Illegals or any others not entitled to vote.) But then a lot of those is who the demorats count on to vote for them & vote often on election day.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

So Uncle Scrappy, I guess you supported the inclusion of a military ID along with the exclusion of a tribal ID, even though non-citizens can serve in the U.S. Military?

Albert
Albert

Easy - exempt those counties.

Anon
Anon

if you would exempt those counties, you don't actually care about voter fraud. you can claim that you legitimately care about voter fraud if you are willing to have your taxes raised to support the logistics of giving everyone a free ID, setting up (and permanently staffing) offices to reach near 100% of the population, and advertising the new regulations so that you can reasonably claim that every citizen was informed of the new rules.

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

This isn't about voter fraud. It's about the GOP wanting to ensure lower turnouts and continued victories in a state where the demographics are quickly changing.

Albert
Albert

Everyone doesn't need free ID, only the people with no ID that can't afford the free ID needs free ID, see?

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

You can't have a state law for one part of the state not for another part of the state. It's that whole separate is inherently unequal thing that US Supreme Court ruled on.

Albert
Albert

Oh c'mon, it's not that hard. Arlington was the only town with an open beverage law for years.

Anyone can be exempted from anything, look how the biggest supporters of the health care law were exempted.

This is America, the "can do" country

Albert
Albert

It's pretty hard for Hispanics to get license and insurance for driving, let's just stop requiring them.

Oh, and about the difficulty some have paying their taxes...

Dmag
Dmag

A pretty dumb-ass comment there Albert! 

No question who and what you are!!! 

Albert
Albert

Thank you, you're too kind.

At least we know no-one's buying likker in these counties.

Branden Helms
Branden Helms

Can you say with a straight face you see no difference between voting and driving a car?

pencil
pencil

Undocumented American voting rights.

Ian
Ian

Wow - there is actual justice down at the DOJ! Who knew?

BP
BP

What a great ruling by the DOJ, finally some Justice!!! 

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

Absentee and mail-in ballots are causing more fraud than issues related to Voter ID. See the recent verdict in the Medrano family case as an example.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Go figure.  Among the dozens of posts this year about women's health, Rick Perry and how the Republican party is basically screwing over the country, there was not a single post about the Medrano family voter fraud case.  

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...