voting rights act

Roy Varney for KUT News

Texas' new voter ID  laws can be used to discourage minorities and women from voting. 

That's according to the nonprofit Texas Civil Rights Project. Today, it released a 63-page report criticizing the states' voter registration procedures, and a lack of voting registration opportunities.

Last June, the United States Supreme Court overturned a portion of the Voting Rights Act. The act was originally intended to protect voters from discrimination in voting matters, but the Supreme Court ruled that the application of the act, covering large parts of the South, was outdated.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling, Texas instituted a voter identification law. The law requires registered voters to present a valid form of identification to vote. The Texas Civil Rights Project would like to see the voter ID law overturned, because they say it can be used to deter minority populations from voting. 

flickr.com/tabor-roeder

The Supreme Court has overturned a portion of the Voting Rights Act. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says this morning’s decision means a Texas voter ID law "will take effect immediately." Scroll down for updates. 

The high court struck down Section 4 of the act, which establishes a formula to identify portions of the county (primarily the South) where changes to elections must be approved by the Department of Justice. That was to ensure minority voting rights weren’t infringed upon.

From the court's opinion:

"Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices. The formula captures States by reference to literacy tests and low voter registration and turnout in the 1960s and early 1970s. But such tests have been banned for over 40 years. And voter registration and turnout numbers in covered States have risen dramatically."

The court didn’t do away with Section 5 of the act – the portion that allows the Department of Justice to reject state laws it sees as discriminatory. Instead, the court says the new standards should be created, instead of the expanded coverage called for under Section 4.  

flickr.com/miikka_skaffari

Lawmakers are looking at a bill today that would change the requirements for mail-in ballots in Harris County. The county would no longer need to send out ballots in a language other than English, unless it’s requested by the voter.

The Harris County clerk says it costs a lot to print and send mail-in ballots to eligible voters. That’s because the county must print ballots in four languages: English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Once again, race is front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. And once again, the bull's eye is the 1965 Voting Rights Act, widely viewed as the most effective and successful civil rights legislation in American history. Upheld five times by the court, the law now appears to be on life support.

The nation has twice elected an African-American president.

Black voters have been turning out for general elections in rates that for the first time in U.S. history rival those of whites.

Texas Minority Lawmakers: Keep Voting Rights Act

Feb 25, 2013
Bobby Blanchard

Representatives from minority groups are asking Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop fighting Section Five of the Voting Rights Act.

This Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Shelby County v. Holder case, which challenges Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. That's the part of the act that requires federal approval of any changes to voting requirements.

While the Shelby County v. Holder case originated in Alabama, Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fisher said this case resembles Texas cases that might be heard by the Supreme Court. Abbott's appeal of a decision that deeming Texas’ new redistricting maps discriminatory also challenges Section Five.