DOJ blocks poll tax in Texas

In the midst of a concentrated conservative attack on voting rights, the DOJ is doing the right thing and going after the modern day poll tax in the form of voter ID laws that require much more than just an ID. Today, the DOJ blocked Texas' voter ID law, citing its disproportionately adverse effect on Latino voters.
In a letter to the Texas state government, Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said the state had failed to meet its requirement, under the Voting Rights Act, to show that the measure would not disproportionately disenfranchise registered minority voters.

“Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card,” Mr. Perez wrote, “and that disparity is statistically significant.”

Texas has roughly 12.8 million registered voters, of whom about 2.8 million are Hispanic. The state had supplied two sets of data comparing its voter rolls to a list of people who had valid state-issued photo identification cards — one for September and the other in January — showing that Hispanic voters were 46.5 percent to 120 percent more likely to lack such identification.
In fairness to the government of Texas, that Latinos are about half as likely as whites to have ID is probably the key reason they enacted this law. But, the state of Texas says that the ID is free from the state! Why would that be a poll tax when it doesn't cost the voter anything to obtain? Well, just because the state doesn't charge for the ID itself doesn't mean that there are no costs to obtaining it. For one thing, who's paying for the transportation and the lost work hours for the voter to the DMV to get this ID? For another,
In his letter Monday, Perez also argued that under the Texas law, in order to get a state-issued voter identification card, a voter would need to provide two pieces of secondary identification, or one piece of secondary identification and two supporting documents. “If a voter does not possess any of these documents, the least expensive option will be to spend $22 on a copy of the voter’s birth certificate,” he said. This, Perez said, would impose a burden on Hispanic voters because many have incomes below the federal poverty line.
The state of Texas sure as hell ain't going to pay that $22, are they?

And hey, whaddya know, Rick Perry - the village idiot that succeeded Dubya to Texas' governorship - has a reaction.
"The DOJ has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requires nothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive a library card or board an airplane," he said in a statement.
Yes, because library memberships and boarding an airplane are just as unassailable as the right to vote in a democracy. One is also required to pay late fees for library material retained past the due date, and one is certainly required to pay for an airplane ticket. What's Rick Perry's next argument, that voters should actually have to pay a fee to obtain their ballots, too?

Remember that all this comes under the climate in which voter fraud is essentially non-existent in the United States, except as a talking point by the Right with which to disenfranchise groups of voters more likely to vote Democratic. The fact of the matter is that the state has vastly more resources to verify if a voter is legitimate after he or she registers, including signature verification, checking state, federal naturalization and hospital birth registry databases. In addition visual inspection of voter ID is far more susceptible to forgery than is computer verification of a signature.

To put the burden on the voter to produce an ID that itself requires jumping through hoops to get is a bizarre way of ensuring the integrity of the election process, and more accurately, it's a method of voter suppression.

Republicans are very mad that the Department of Justice is actually fighting for the Voting Rights Act and the integrity of each voter. There is a reason they are mad. As the Republican party looks to appeal to a narrower and narrower sliver of the American electorate based on their disaster-economics, narrow-mindedness, racism, homophobia, misogyny and other various forms of bigotry, the country looks simultaneously at a more diverse, accepting and multicultural future, there is only one way for Republicans to hang onto power. And that is to suppress the vote of those who are not likely to subscribe to their extremist agenda.

Let's support this Justice Department's enforcement actions on the Voting Rights Act, and let's stay on alert about the Republican attacks on voting rights. The NAACP has launched an effort to protect our vote, and I would encourage everyone to join it.


Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.