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Texas Voter ID Trial to Start on July 9 in Washington, D.C.: NAACP Legal Defense Fund Warns Law Would Disfranchise Minority Voters

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7/09/12

(Washington, D.C.) The weeklong trial before a three-judge federal court begins Monday, July 9th in Texas v. Holder, a case involving Texas’ proposed photo identification law.   The trial begins at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 8 (4th Floor) at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia at 333 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

In the lawsuit, Texas has asked a federal court to approve, under the Section 5 preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most restrictive government-issued photo identification laws in the country.  In the alternative, Texas asks the court to strike down Section 5, the heart of the Voting Rights Act, as unconstitutional. 

NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) represents the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund, and Black college students at Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern Universities who have intervened in the case.  

“Our clients voted in previous elections in Texas using the only form of identification they had—a state-issued student ID—which would no longer be acceptable under Texas’s proposed photo identification law,” said Ryan P. Haygood, Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group. “While a student ID will not satisfy Texas’s proposed ID measure, a concealed handgun license will.  Section 5 protects against the implementation of this type of law, which threatens to disfranchise many students of color who seek to exercise their protected right to vote.”

Nationwide, twenty-five percent of African Americans and sixteen percent of Latinos of voting age lack a current government-issued photo ID.

“Texas’s discriminatory photo ID measure demonstrates why, in the face of persisting obstacles for minority voters, the Voting Rights Act is still necessary,” said Natasha Korgaonkar, LDF Assistant Counsel. “Our clients expose the discriminatory nature of Texas’s photo ID measure, and the true costs and burdens of obtaining the underlying documents necessary to secure Texas’s so-called ‘free’ photo ID.  Our experience teaches us that a student’s ability to pay a fee should not determine whether they can vote.”

Texas previously sought federal approval for the same photo ID law from the Department of Justice, who determined that the law would disproportionately affect voters of color.

Texas’ voter ID law is part of an assault that several states are waging on the voting rights of people of color, recently chronicled in LDF’s report "Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America", available by clicking here.