Mon March 12, 2012
Reactions to Justice Department Photo Voter ID Decision
Earlier today, KUT News reported the Department of Justice has refused to preclear Texas' voter ID law, arguing it would disproportionately impact Latino and Hispanic voters. Here's a roundup of lawmakers' reaction to the decision.
Gov. Rick Perry
"Texas has a responsibility to ensure elections are fair, beyond reproach and accurately reflect the will of voters. 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. Their denial is yet another example of the Obama Administration's continuing and pervasive federal overreach."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott:
The Justice Department's decision to deny preclearance to Texas' Voter ID law is no surprise given the Obama Administration's denial of a similar law in South Carolina. In anticipation of this decision, the Texas Attorney General's office already filed legal action in January seeking judicial preclearance with the court system. The U.S. Supreme Court has already held that Voter ID requirements are constitutional and nondiscriminatory, and several other states--including Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Wisconsin--are allowed to require photo identification to vote. Texas should not be treated differently and must have the same authority as other states to protect the integrity of our elections.
Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted more than 100 defendants for election fraud. During the same period, election fraud investigations by the Texas Attorney General's Office have resulted in 50 convictions. Those cases include a woman who submitted her dead mother's ballot, a paid operative who cast two elderly voters' ballots after transporting them to the polling place, a city council member who unlawfully registered ineligible foreign nationals to vote in an election that was decided by a 19-vote margin, a Starr County defendant who voted twice on Election Day, a Harris County man who used his deceased father's voter registration card to vote in an election, a worker who pled guilty after attempting to vote for two of her family members, and a Brooks County man who presented another voter's registration card and illegally cast that voter's ballot on Election Day
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn:
“Voter identification laws are constitutional and vital to protecting the integrity of the democratic process.
“Today’s decision reeks of politics and appears to be an effort by the Department of Justice to carry water for the President’s reelection campaign.”
Texas Sen. Troy Fraser:
“I am extremely disappointed that the federal Department of Justice rejected Texas’ voter identification law today. I believe that a photo identification law simply puts into practice the intent of the current law – that the person who shows up at the polls is who he or she claims to be. And, even the U.S. Supreme Court has said that voter identification requirements are constitutional.
"Polls show that people are less likely to vote if they believe their ballot will not be fairly counted. The law I passed last year would have been one step to restore voter confidence by giving election workers a tool to eliminate in-person voter fraud.
“Additionally, a recent Lighthouse Opinion Polling and Research poll showed that 86 percent of Texans - both Republicans and Democrats support a photo-ID requirement. Despite this overwhelming public support for voter identification laws, the Obama justice department failed to approve our law.
“Voting is one of our most fundamental rights. I believe it is my responsibility as an elected official to ensure that legitimate votes cast by Texans are not diluted by those voting fraudulently.
“This legislation is not a radical concept. I am just asking that every voter verify that "you are who you say you are" before casting his or her vote.”
Texas Rep. Jessica Farrar:
"I am grateful that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided to not preclear Senate Bill 14. This law, supported only by Republican lawmakers, had the opportunity to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible, Texas voters. According to data provided by the Governor Perry-appointed Secretary of State, 800,000 registered voters do not have a valid photo ID number. And according to the DOJ's own analysis, Latinos in Texas are up to 120 percent more likely to not have the required identification, and are nearly twice as likely to not have the available transportation to get a photo id card. Furthermore, one-third of Texas counties do not even have an operational driver's license office.
Those facts cannot be disputed. And they are reason enough to not preclear this measure. The DOJ has my gratitude in allowing hundreds of thousands of Texas to keep their Constitutional right to vote."
Texas Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, Chairman of Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC):
"As the nation's oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus, MALC has been on the frontlines battling Texas' discriminatory practices and policies. Simply put, this voter identification law disenfranchises the minority community. Should this legislation ever see the light of day, it would immediately become the strictest voter qualification law since the poll tax. Worse yet, photo identification requirements for voters drastically affect the electoral participation of the poor, the elderly, and the transient, which means those who need their government's ear most will be the last to be heard."
Texas Rep. Lon Burnam
"The Dept. of Justice looked at the data and saw this bill for what it is-- a brazen attempt to take us back to the days of Jim Crow. We fought long and hard to unshackle those chains of discrimination. Thanks to the victories of the civil rights movement 50 years ago, we won't be going back there again with this bill."