Texas voter ID law blocked by Justice Department

The Justice Department on Monday blocked a new law that requires voters to produce photo identification before they cast their votes. The Obama administration cited the Hispanic communities as a reason; the Hispanic community generally do not possess any Government issued photo-id such as driver’s licence, military ID or passport. The actual law was passed in May, 2011 making it mandatory for voters to carry a state issued photo-id.

This decision follows suit on a similar move made in South Carolina in December. These laws have been part of the Republican ideology to bring in reforms to cut down on voter fraud.

The current case in point is Texas, which has a huge Hispanic population. They make up 2.8 million of the total registered voters of 12.8 million, which is at least 11 percent of the total voters.

“Hispanic registered voters are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic registered voters to lack such identification,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, head of the department’s civil rights division wrote to the Texas director of elections outlining his displeasure over the move.

Governor Rick Perry has criticized the decision and said that he was all for increasing integrity in elections.”The DOJ has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requires nothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive a library card or board an airplane,” he said

Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, when certain sects of minority voters are suppressed by certain jurisdictions, changes can be made to voting rules given that it has no discriminatory impact on minority voters. Such ad-hoc changes can be cleared by the Justice Department or by a panel of federal judges.

As mentioned before, the move has its fair share of fans and critics. Critics point to impersonation and voter fraud, while people who are pro feel that the law is being used to suppress minority voters who are loyal Democrat voters.

The voter issue has seen some change over the years with at least eight different states passing different variations of the photo-id laws including Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

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