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Justice Department Bars Texas Voter ID Law

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by Justin Shubow
Posted March 13, 2012, 5:06 PM

Continuting a national debate on voting rights, the Justice Department has blocked a Texas law requiring voters to show identification, The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration on Monday blocked a new law in Texas that requires voters to show a photo ID, drawing fierce criticism from Republicans who say the move was aimed at boosting President Obama’s reelection prospects.

The Justice Department said that the law disproportionately harms Hispanic voters.

“Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card,” Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, wrote in a letter to Keith Ingram, director of elections for the Texas secretary of state.

The action follows a similar move in late December to block a voter ID law in South Carolina that federal officials said adversely affects black voters.

The challenges are part of an escalating national legal battle over voter ID laws that has become more intense because it is an election year. Eight states passed voter ID laws last year, and critics say the new statutes could hurt turnout among minority voters and others, many of whom helped elect Obama in 2008. But supporters of the measures — seven of which were signed by Republican governors and one by an independent — say they are needed to combat voter fraud.

At the 2011 Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention, the Free Speech & Election Law Practice Group hosted a panel on "Voter Fraud and Voter ID — The Constitution and the Right to Vote." The speakers were:

  • Mr. John Fund, Former Columnist, The Wall Street Journal and Opinionjournal.com
  • Prof. Spencer A. Overton, Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School
  • Prof. Daniel P. Tokaji, Professor of Law, The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law and and Senior Fellow of Election Law @ Moritz
  • Mr. Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow and Manager, Civil Justice Reform Initiative, The Heritage Foundation
  • Moderator: Hon. Thomas B. Griffith, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit

For a video of the event, click here.

See also George Mason University Law professor Allison R. Hayward's 2008 FedSoc white paper, "State Voter ID Requirements and the Constitution."

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