Voter ID

Jason Brackins for the Texas Tribune

A United States District Court has denied Texas’ request to implement its controversial Voter ID law.

In the case of the Texas versus U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the court writes that the law – Senate Bill 14, passed in 2011 – will have a “retrogressive effect” on the voting rights of minority citizens.

Here’s the heart of the court’s opinion:

Pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Texas seeks a declaratory judgment that Senate Bill 14 (SB 14), a newly-enacted law requiring in-person voters to present a photo ID, “neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race[,] color,” or “member[ship] [in] a language minority group.” ..  To satisfy section 5’s effect requirement, Texas must demonstrate that SB 14 will not “lead to a retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.” …  For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we find that Texas has failed to make this showing—in fact, record evidence demonstrates that, if implemented, SB 14 will likely have a retrogressive effect. Given this, we have no need to consider whether Texas has satisfied section 5’s purpose element. Accordingly, we deny the state’s request for a declaratory judgment.

Cliff Weathers, bit.ly/NncwS3

Closing arguments in the Texas voter ID trial took place in Washington D.C. today.

If implemented, the law would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls. The state argues that the new law is needed to decrease incidents of voter fraud. U.S. Attorney General has argued that Texas’ ID requirements (and others like it) are tantamount to “poll taxes.”

During the trial, state attorneys cited Travis County as one of the 18 counties that did not properly maintain voter registration records. They further claimed that over 50,000 deceased voters remain on the registry – an open door to voter fraud. 

Ben Philpott for KUT News

Voter ID Trial Continues

Closing arguments are set to begin today in the Texas Voter ID trial in Washington, D.C.

The law would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls.

A three-judge panel will decide whether the Texas law violates the Voting Rights Act by making it harder for minorities to cast a ballot. The U.S. Department of Justice argues that it does.

But lawyers for the state say the law wouldn’t disenfranchise minority voters. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hopes the judges will agree and that the law will be in place in time for the November election.

KUT News, U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke today to members of the NAACP at a conference in Houston.

He talked about his appreciation of the organization and his concerns about the opportunities for young people in some urban areas.

Holder also talked about the Texas Voter ID bill and why he believes it would be harmful to minority voters.

The controversial Voter ID Law that passed last year in the Texas State Legislature is going before a federal court. The trial begins today to determine if Texas can implement the law, which requires voters to show government-issued photo identification.

The state says the law will prevent voter fraud. The Justice Department worries it will disenfranchise Hispanic voters and claims it violates the federal Voting Rights Act.  A disproportionate number of minorities in Texas lack the necessary identification, which would prevent them from voting. Texas will have to persuade a three-judge panel of the law’s legality.

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus says during the 2008 and 2010 elections there was only one case of voter fraud in over 13 million ballots cast.

Mose Buchele, KUT News; Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News; Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

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Federal investigators say the defendants were involved in a money laundering scheme for the cartel involving the horse racing business.

Authorities arrested seven of the indicted individuals on Tuesday. One person was arrested in Austin.

Abbott and police photos by KUT News; Slupree image courtesy 7-eleven.com

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A Travis County Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Steven Peña.

Police say Peña shot Gilberto Vallejo last May after Vallejo fired a weapon at police. Police were responding to a call in Southeast Austin on a report that Vallejo was trying to shoot his way into an apartment to get to an ex-girlfriend.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/texasgovernor

Texas’ Voter ID Law in Legal Limbo

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that if Texas does not hand over requested documentation by Wednesday, the trial on Texas’ Voter ID Law will most likely be delayed. A delay in the trial means that Texas will not see the law implemented in time for the November election, according to the Texas Tribune.

The trial was scheduled to start July 9, until yesterday’s decision. The DOJ is specifically requesting information on voters and state databases; the state has until Wednesday to comply, says the Tribune.

KUT News previously reported that the DOJ had previously used demographic and census data to argue the  law would have a disproportionate impact on minority citizens.

Holder photo courtesy Justice Department; Abbott photo courtesy Texas Attorney General

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.

NAACP Takes Voter ID Laws To U.N. Rights Council

Mar 15, 2012

Like they've done in the past, the NAACP has argued before a United Nations panel that laws passed in some states that require voters to show identification suppress the votes of minorities.

Fox News reports the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People made its case in Geneva yesterday:

Photo courtesy flickr.com/mvjantzen

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."

Photo courtesy flickr.com/texasgovernor

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has refused to clear Texas’ voter ID requirements, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011.

The state and the DOJ have been at odds over the issue for months, with the feds requesting additional information to ascertain whether the law would have a disproportionate impact on minority citizens.

Texas is one of the Southern states covered under the Voting Rights Act; Section 5 of the act requires the DOJ to “pre-clear” any electoral changes states make that might impact minority voters.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/drbeachvacation

SXSW Film and Interactive Start Tomorrow

Austin’s South by Southwest Film and Interactive Festivals kicks off tomorrow and downtown is preparing.

Photo by KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Justice, seeking to enforce a controversial voter ID requirement passed by the Texas Legislature.

Passed in 2011, the law requires most voters to show a photo ID verifying their identity before they can cast a ballot. Proponents of the measure claim it’s required to clamp down on voter fraud. But critics counter instances of voter fraud are relatively rare, and moreover, the parties most likely affected – minorities, the young, and poorer citizens – often support Democratic candidates over Republican ones.

Photo by KUT

A law requiring voters in Texas to show photo identification before casting a ballot is being challenged by several civil rights groups. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Advancement Project and others sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department this morning, saying the law will have a discriminatory effect on minorities.

“These proposed changes -- both in the process and in the types of acceptable identification -- are unjustified and are unlawful under the Voting Rights Act,” the letter states.

Photo by KUT News

UT Study Ranks it 2nd in Efficiency

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Photo by KUT News.

2011 ACL Lineup Released

This year's ACL lineup is out, and it's causing a stir. Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Arcade Fire and Coldplay are headlining the 10th annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and Cee Lo will also grace the stages of the three day music fest. 

Photo by KUT News

After years of Republican attempts and procedural blocks by Democrats, a voter ID bill has passed the Texas House and Senate.  The bill passed the House on 3rd reading today on a 101-48 vote.  Today's debate and vote took just minutes, compared to the 11 hours the House spent debating amendments Wednesday.  The bill now goes back to the Senate.  That chamber can either agree with the House changes to the bill or ask for a conference committee to work out the differences.

Photo by Kut News

The Texas House Passes Voter ID

After more than 11 hours of debate, the Texas House gave initial approval to a voter ID bill last night.  It would require Texans to show a photo ID before casting a ballot at the polls.  Democrats used a variety of parliamentary procedures to delay the bill but didn't have the votes to stop it.  Democratic lawmakers say it would disenfranchise minority and elderly voters.  Republicans say it would protect the integrity of the voting system by preventing voter fraud. 

picture by KUT

UPDATE, 1:50 p.m.:  A point of order on Voter ID bill has been sustained. The bill is headed back to committee for a clean-up. The language in the bill said "Days"; the bill's analysis said "Business Days," so the bill was sent back to clarify the discrepancy.

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