Indiana News

Justice Department Hoping to Block Voter ID Law in Texas

Specifics of Texas law is similar to Indiana's law

8/23/2013

The Justice Department has sued to block voter ID in Texas, but it is not going after the specifics of that state's law, which is similar to Indiana's law.

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The lawsuit filed by Attorney General Eric Holder does not challenge the specifics of voter ID, which took effect in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act in June.  That provision forced 11 states and a handful of cities and counties with a history of racial discrimination to get Justice Department approval - or pre-clearance - before making any changes to voting laws.

Instead, the federal government is suing under section 3-c of the Voting Rights Law, arguing that Texas passed voter ID and new legislative and Congressional voting districts with the intent of discriminating against minority voters.  "If they can show that intent to discriminate, then the courts can invalidate the voter ID law and invalidate the redistricting plan," says David Orentlicher, professor at IU's McKinney School of Law, adding that a court could also force Texas to revert to pre-clearance status and get Justice Department approval for future voting law changes.

This could also be a test case for future challenges to voting laws, such as voter ID in Indiana, if the Justice Department is successful.   "One of the things they are going to try to argue is that there was a different intent.  We might not have been able to show intent in Indiana, but we can show intent in Texas," said Orentlicher.

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