Justice Department Blocks Texas Voter ID Law Over Hispanic Impact

The Department of Justice rejected a new Texas voter ID law, stating that the state failed to show how its photo-ID requirement would not discriminate against minority voters, particularly Hispanics.

The law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled state Legislature last year, would require voters to show a Texas driver’s license or a Department of Public Safety Identification card. Proponents of the law said the measures aim to combat voter fraud. However, minority advocacy groups and activists argued that it would make it far harder for many registered Texans to vote, specifically the Hispanic population.

The Justice Department seemed to agree. In a letter to Texas officials that were also filed in the court case in Washington, the Justice Department said Hispanic voters in Texas are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic voters to lack a driver’s license or personal state-issued photo ID.

In a letter to the Texas secretary of State, Thomas E. Perez, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said, “I cannot conclude that the state has sustained its burden” of showing that the newly enacted law has neither a discriminatory purpose nor effect. According to state records, a large portion of mostly Latino voters – 40 percent of the registered voters in nine heavily Hispanic districts – would not currently be able to vote under their current voter information.

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