NPR : News

Filed Under:

Justice Files Voter Discrimination Suit Against Texas

The Justice Department has filed suit against Texas under the Voting Rights Act, claiming that the state requirement for voter identification discriminates against minorities.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleges that the state's 2011 voter ID law was intended to be discriminatory. It alleges that poor black and Latino voters — many of whom don't drive — might be required to travel considerable distances to a driver's license office in order to acquire voter identification.

The suit cites Texas' history of voter discrimination and notes that only three forms of voter identification are acceptable under state law — a driver's license, personal ID card or an election identification certificate (EIC) — all issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which runs the state's driver's license branches.

Many Texas counties do not have driver's license offices "[requiring] some voters to travel approximately 200 miles round trip in order to obtain an EIC." Additionally, the suit says, many of those offices don't have weekend hours, so "some voters are required to take hours of time out of a workday to obtain an EIC."

As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, Texas officials have denounced the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder for filing the suit:

"Eric Holder is wrong to mess with Texas," the state's attorney general, Greg Abbott, said. "He is clearly joining in with the Obama administration to use the Voting Rights Act for pure political purposes."

In June, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires states with a history of voter discrimination to submit to scrutiny from the Justice Department before changing election laws. Texas is one of nine Southern states that had been covered by the provision.

Last month in a speech before the National Urban League, Holder said that despite the Supreme Court ruling, he planned to ask the court to hold Texas to account on other provisions in the VRA.

Holder has said that the high court's ruling doesn't mean it's "open season on voter suppression."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Pack These Pages: Three Must-Reads For Summer

Harriet Logan, owner of Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio, recommends a graphic novel about trash, a George Eliot classic and a children's book about a bear pianist.
NPR

Why Does Every New Restaurant Look Like A Factory?

The stripped-down look of exposed brick, poured cement floors, and Edison light bulbs is popular in restaurants across America. One reporter dares to ask, "Seriously, why?"
WAMU 88.5

Why Local Nonprofits Haven't Fixed Poverty

As long as there has been poverty, there have been people trying to end it. We explore the obstacles and inefficiencies local nonprofits run into when trying to solve society's stubborn problem.

WAMU 88.5

Can We Trust Our Cars?

There were more airbag recalls this week, and VW has agreed to pay nearly fifteen billion in its emissions cheating scandal. Meanwhile, cars with driverless technology are becoming available, but whether they will make us safer is up for debate. A look at auto safety and consumer trust.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.