(New York)–Next week, beginning on Tuesday, September 2nd, LDF’s political participation team will start trial in Corpus Christi, Texas challenging the state’s discriminatory voter ID law (SB 14). In 2013, LDF intervened in this lawsuit, United States v. Texas, now consolidated with Veasey v. Perry, to strike Texas’s discriminatory photo ID law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.
Under Texas’s photo ID law, concealed handgun licenses are acceptable forms of photo ID to vote in-person, but student IDs are not.Texas’s photo ID law is a solution in search of a problem, as a person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to see someone attempt to vote fraudulently at the polls.
What is known, however, is that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas lack the kind of photo ID required by SB 14, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color. Nationally, only 8% of white voting age citizens lack a government-issued photo ID compared to 25% of African-American voting age citizens.
Despite the fact that another federal court in 2012 determined that Texas’s photo ID law was the most discriminatory in the country under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas immediately implemented that law following the U.S. Supreme Court’s devastating decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, which effectively dismantled Section 5’s protections.
Click here for more information about the case, including court documents and daily updates from the trial.
Below are more updates about LDF’s work to preserve and expand voting rights:
- In a letter to Alabama’s Secretary of State, LDF has expressed grave concerns about the State’s failure to count at least 286 ballots from the June 3, 2014 election due to Alabama’s recently implemented photo ID law. LDF’s letter also points out that, while large numbers of ballots in majority-Black counties were discarded, election officials are not even applying the law in some majority-white counties. The State also has provided mobile photo ID-issuing sites that are ill-placed (at times located only a block from permanent ID-issuing sites), rendering those mobile sites pointless in terms of increasing access to the required photo ID for poor, rural, and/or Black voters who lack it.
- LDF filed an amicus brief in the Arkansas Supreme Court in support of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s voter ID law. The brief describes the significant burdens that the law places on thousands of Arkansans without photo ID, such as requiring poor Black people without cars to drive as far as sixty (60) miles round trip or go on bus trips that can take all day to reach voting sites.
- Any day now, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hand down a decision in Scott v. Schedler, LDF’s successful lawsuit against Louisiana agencies for their failure to comply with their obligations under the National Voter Registration Act (the “Motor Voter Act”). LDF won a federal court decision finding that in contravention of the Act, Louisiana has failed to fulfill its federal obligations to provide voter registration services to individuals receiving public assistance, leaving countless Louisiana citizens effectively disenfranchised.
- In Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP, et al. v. Jindal, et al., LDF is litigating a challenge under the Voting Rights Act and the U. S. Constitution to Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana’s at-large method of electing members for the 32nd Judicial District Court. A Black candidate has never been elected as a judge on this parish court. A sitting judge on the court has been suspended for wearing blackface, an orange prison jumpsuit, handcuffs, and an afro wig to a Halloween party as part of his offensive parody of a Black prison inmate.
- In South Carolina, LDF is providing assistance to the Burton-Dale-Beaufort Branch of the NAACP who has stronglyurged the Beaufort City Council to end the current discriminatory at-large based system of voting and put up for voter referendum a district-based voting map that will ensure that all of Beaufort’s residents have an equal say in the political process.