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The U.S. Department of Justice rightly sues to block Texas’s Voter ID law

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The U.S. Department of Justice Rightly Sues to Block
Texas’s Voter ID Law

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Clients Seek to Join Lawsuit

 

Statement from Ryan Haygood, Director of the Political Participation Group at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund:

The Department of Justice stepped up its efforts to stop the State of Texas from making it harder for Black and Latino voters to cast ballots on Election Day. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund applauds the Department of Justice’s lawsuit. Filed under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the lawsuit challenges a restrictive voter ID law that was previously rejected by a federal court because it was determined to be the most discriminatory ID law the country. The Department of Justice is also asking the Court to require Texas going forward to receive permission from the federal government before it can implement any other voting measures. 

Although students could previously vote in-person using their student identification, Texas now prohibits the use of such identification, but it will allow for the use of a concealed handgun license.  In a lawsuit concerning the same law, filed in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund represented a group of students from historically Black universities Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M. These students, many of whom had previously voted in Texas elections using student IDs, would have been blocked from the polls under the strict law. The Department of Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s clients, and other intervenors representing voters of color in Texas, won that lawsuit last August, with the Court recognizing that Texas's restrictive photo identification measure would harm minority voters. The Supreme Court’s intervening decision concerning Section 5 requires that the law be challenged again, this time under Section 2.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund will seek to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of our clients in Texas who know that our democracy is stronger when more, not fewer, citizens participate in the political process. Our clients are Texas League of Young Voters and students from Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M.

Separately, the Department of Justice is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit involving redistricting in Texas.

Statement from Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund:

Texas has a deeply disturbing history of brazenly suppressing the votes and voting strength of Black and Latino voters. The voter ID law in Texas is a solution in search of a problem. A Texas voter is more likely to be struck by lightning than to see someone attempt to vote fraudulently at the polls.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic March on Washington, we are reminded that the fight for equal rights is far from history. Every day the struggle continues. The State of Texas would like to take us backwards in time, to a time when people of color did not have an equal voice in our society. Governor Perry, we have a message for you: We won’t let that happen on our watch.

Those who care more about suppressing our votes than the guarantees of our Constitution have been emboldened by the Supreme Court’s ruling that took Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act out of commission. Not hours after that ruling, Texas’s Attorney General declared that the Texas voter ID law would go into effect immediately. Congress must step in to protect voters by fully restoring the Voting Rights Act. We are asking voters to report discriminatory efforts to change voting rules to us by emailing vote@naacpldf.org

Read the Department of Justice's complaint here.