Texas was one of those Southern States that was notorious for putting roadblocks in the way to keep minority voters from exercising their right to vote back before the Voting Rights Act was passed (one of a series of civil rights laws passed in the 1960s). That's why it still must get the approval of the Justice Department (or the federal courts) before changing anything that could affect minority voting (which includes changing voting laws and voting districts).
In the last session of the Texas legislature, the Republicans (who control the legislature and all statewide offices) passed a new law requiring voters to not only have a voter registration card but also a state-approved picture ID before being allowed to vote. Yesterday, the Justice Department refused to approve that change in Texas voting law. They refused to approve it because they said it would unfairly affect minority voting (which of course, is exactly what the Republicans wanted the law to do).
The Justice Department concluded the new law would pose an unfair disadvantage on Hispanic voters. They noted that 139 of Texas 254 counties don't have a driver's license office (where both driver's licenses and ID cards are issued in Texas), and that the percentage of Hispanics in these counties without the picture ID is double the number of white voters without it. And while these voters could get a voter registration card from their county seat, they would have to go much farther to get a picture ID (perhaps over a hundred miles in some places) -- and that put an unfair burden on those voters. Here's part of what the Justice Department said:
The disparity between the percentages of Hispanics and non-Hispanics who lack these forms of identification ranges from 46.5 to 120.0 percent. That is, according to the state?s own data, a Hispanic registered voter is at least 46.5 percent, and potentially 120.0 percent, more likely than a non-Hispanic registered voter to lack this identification. Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver?s license or a personal identification card issued by DPS, and that disparity is statistically significant.
Of course, the Republicans aren't about to agree with that. They are bound and determined to suppress the minority vote in Texas (because in a few more years minority voters will make up the majority of Texas voters if they don't suppress it in some way). The Republicans have gone to court to get their unfair law approved. They are counting on the conservatives in those courts to help them (especially the Supreme Court).
So, Texas is still in limbo. We still don't know if the Republicans will be finally allowed to suppress minority votes or not (and forget the lame argument that the GOP is just trying to prevent voter fraud. No one has been able to find any fraud that would be prevented by the Voter ID law.)
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