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Justice Department Blasts Texas Voter ID Law

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (l) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have clashed over Voter ID requirements.
Holder photo courtesy Justice Department; Abbott photo courtesy Texas Attorney General
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (l) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have clashed over Voter ID requirements.

The U.S. Department of Justice says a Texas law requiring most people to show ID before they can vote will discriminate against minorities.

In court documents filed today, the department says there is substantial evidence that minorities will be affected the most:

Among other evidence, records produced by the State of Texas indicate that S.B. 14 will disenfranchise at least 600,000 voters who currently lack necessary photo identification and that minority registered voters will be disproportionately affected by the law, based on both a greater likelihood of lacking a required form of photo identification and a lesser ability to obtain a necessary identification.

The document was filed in response to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s plea to block the Justice Department from gaining access to state lawmaker’s work papers and communications dealing with the creation of the law. Abbott has argued those communications are privileged, but the department says no such privilege exists.

The move comes amid a broader skirmish between the state and the Justice Department. Last month, Abbott’s office brought a lawsuit against the department challenging the constitutionality Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, which requires the Justice Department to preclear changes to voting programs – such as the Voter ID law – in Southern states, including Texas.  

The Justice Department has already blocked the voter ID law from being used during the May 29 primary election. A trial over the law is set to begin in July.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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