Civil Rights Groups Press Department of Justice to Block New Texas Voter ID Law

November 16, 2011

Please contact:

Brennan Center for Justice

Andrew Goldston

 646.292.8372

andrew.goldston@nyu.edu

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Stacie Royster

 202.662.8317

sroyster@lawyerscommittee.org

New York – The Brennan Center for Justice, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Texas State Conference of the NAACP today urged the U.S. Department of Justice to use its authority under the Voting Rights Act to block implementation of Texas’s new voter ID law, S.B. 14.

In a letter sent earlier today, the groups analyzed additional data submitted to the Justice Department by Texas last month. The data show that the new law, which imposes a government-issued photo ID requirement for voting, will disproportionately burden minority voters  and produce discriminatory effects. Specifically, statistical analysis of Texas’ own data shows conclusively that a higher percentage of Latino registered voters than white registered voters lack government-issued photo ID.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas is required to obtain “preclearance” from the federal government for any changes in its voting laws. State election officials originally asked the Justice Department to preclear S.B. 14 in July but were asked by the Department of Justice to provide further information about the law and its effect on minority voters in the state. The Justice Department requested this information after several civil rights groups – including those who submitted today’s letter – submitted evidence showing the new law may undermine the voting rights of Texas’s minority voters.

Today’s letter also examines the measures that Texas asserts would eliminate the current disparities regarding ownership of government-issued photo IDs, finding that Texas has failed to meet its burden of showing that these measures would  effectively close the gap. Texas’ proposed “election identification certificates” for voting would themselves have onerous application requirements, including mandatory fingerprinting. At the same time, the state’s proposed public education campaign has yet to be developed and, moreover, any such plan is unlikely to significantly ameliorate the current disparities.

To learn more, download the letter or view it on the Brennan Center web site.