Texas to test 1965 voting rights law in court

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Forum topic by Dan'um Style posted 07-09-2012 02:48 AM 1464 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dan'um Style

14172 posts in 3983 days

07-09-2012 02:48 AM

Topic tags/keywords: news

Thought provoking read .., wanted to pass it on to my Lumber Buds…

Texas to test 1965 voting rights law in court

By Drew Singer

WASHINGTON | Sun Jul 8, 2012 9:46pm EDT

(Reuters) – The Voting Rights Act – a cherished safeguard for minority voters since 1965 – has been under siege for two years and this week faces one of its toughest tests on an apparent path to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Twenty-five hours of argument, starting on Monday and spread over five days, will help the judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decide whether Texas can require voters to present a photo identification at the polls.

Formulated at a time of racial turmoil, the Voting Rights Act passed 77-19 in the U.S. Senate and 333-85 in the House of Representatives. The votes transcended party lines to protect black voters of all political ideals.

Ever since, it has served as the U.S. government’s chief check on the fairness of election rules imposed by local governments.

While it passed with bipartisan support more than 45 years ago, a shift in political preferences along racial lines has turned the landmark piece of civil rights era legislation into a highly charged political issue.

In the 1960s, Democrats held a monopoly of voters in the Southern states. But since then, most white Southern voters have shifted allegiances to the Republican Party, while black and Hispanic voters moved further toward the left.

That shift did not fully manifest itself until congressional redistricting last year, Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Columbia Law School, wrote in a to-be-released article in the Stanford Law & Policy Review. There have been more challenges to the Voting Rights Act in the past two years than in the previous 45 years combined. Among those challenges have been a redistricting case in Alabama and Florida’s purging of voter lists of non-citizens earlier this year.

“We’re seeing people who previously supported the act and what it stood for are now bringing challenges to it,” said Ryan Haygood, director of the Political Participation Group at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.


In March, the Obama administration blocked a Texas law passed in 2011 requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls, saying it was unfair to minority voters. Texas sued the U.S. government, saying its measures were fair and the Justice Department had political motives in going after the law.

“I think it’s a different Department of Justice than in the past,” said Patricia Harless, a Republican who sponsored the voter ID law in the Texas House of Representatives.

Harless said the Texas law was very similar to Georgia’s, which the Justice Department did not block. Indiana also has a law requiring voters to have a photo ID and that will be a factor in the court’s consideration of the Texas law.

Because of the lawsuit, the U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., will host the first trial challenging the government’s power to block a voter ID law since the Democratic Obama administration took office.

Under the blocked Texas measure, voters would be required to show photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport in order to cut down on voter fraud.

Existing Texas law says voters have to show a voter registration card – which does not have a photo – or an acceptable alternative, such as a driver’s license or a utility bill.

Texas says the new measure will prevent voter fraud. Testimony in committee hearings showed cases of dead people casting ballots for Obama, but estimates on the breadth of voter fraud differ dramatically.

The Justice Department counters that Hispanic voters are up to twice as likely to lack the required form of identification as their Caucasian counterparts. For them, getting a photo ID could be a headache.

Haygood represents a group of black students who want to vote in Texas but were born in other states. The new law allows handgun licenses to serve as voter identification but not student IDs.

Some of the students do not have birth certificates, and under the new law, must contact their home counties and pay for one if they want to vote, Haygood said.

Two of the three judges on the panel were appointed by Democratic presidents so it might seem unlikely the court would overturn the Obama administration.

The Texas voter ID dispute is one of dozens of challenges to the Voting Rights Act aimed not just at defending voting changes but also at getting the Supreme Court to strike down the law for good, Persily said.

The Supreme Court last considered the Voting Rights Act in 2009 in upholding Indiana law but narrowly tailored its judgment to delay ruling on the constitutionality of the entire law.

The new wave of disputes that emerged from the 2011 redistricting cycle likely will force the court to take more definitive action as soon as this spring.

The Voting Rights Act places the burden on Texas to prove that the laws do not leave minority voters in a more difficult position to vote than they were in before the new law.


Today, party lines in the South often mirror racial lines, Persily said. Southern whites tend to support Republicans and most minorities favor Democrats.

Record minority turnouts in the 2008 presidential election have helped to make the issue a partisan one.

“Actions and interpretations that previously would not have raised partisan eyebrows are now seen as outrages,” Persily wrote.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act allows the federal government to block voting rules changes in certain Southern states with a particularly heavy history of racial repression.

No matter how aggressively the Justice Department invokes that section, at least one side of today’s political spectrum will be unhappy. Enforce it often and face Republican accusations of overreaching into the states’ sovereignty; Enforce it rarely and face Democratic accusations of shirking minority protections; Enforce it selectively and, ironically, face accusations of playing politics.

“The Voting Rights Act wasn’t designed to be enmeshed in partisan politics,” Persily told Reuters, “And that’s what is happening now.”

The Texas lawsuit for approval of the voter identification law is: State of Texas v. Holder in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 12-cv-128. The judicial panel is composed of Appeals Judge David Tatel, District Judge Robert Wilkins and District Judge Rosemary Collyer.

(Additional reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Howard Goller and Bill Trott)

(This story has been refiled to fix typo in the lead)

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

17 replies so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10100 posts in 4052 days

#1 posted 07-09-2012 04:34 AM

Golly, Dan, that’s quite a legal rat race isn’t it?

I really hope Texas can do what it wants to do in order to stop voter fraud…

I’m convinced that election fraud was very prevalent in the 2008 election.

I hope this subject can be ‘cleaned-up’ before November.

Good luck, Dan…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3676 days

#2 posted 07-09-2012 05:40 AM

There are very few if any proven cases of voter fraud, but there is a lot of election fraud by both major parties ;-(

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2923 days

#3 posted 07-09-2012 09:00 AM

There are a lot of laws that were passed in the 60’s that are outdated by todays standards. The whole voters rights and equal rights acts need to be reviewed. However…..that isn’t going to happen because congress is too busy arguing among themselves to do anything for the public.

-- Life is good.

View pashley's profile


1043 posts in 3718 days

#4 posted 07-09-2012 11:32 AM

We have to show a photo ID for something as mundane as buying beer at the grocery store; shouldn’t photo ID be required for one of our most sacred rights?

Obviously, the Democrats don’t want this, because it will erode the number of people that turn out to support them, which is what Republicans want.

However, I think the imperative of having a sound voting system is more important than what the Democrats want. If the Democrats are so concerned about their non-photo ID constituency showing up, then start a campaign to sign up those people for a photo ID.

-- Have a blessed day!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3676 days

#5 posted 07-09-2012 04:37 PM

Photo ID isn’t the issue, requiring a driver’s license is. Many people don’t have a DL for many reasons like can’t afford it!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3742 days

#6 posted 07-09-2012 04:50 PM

But Topa – they let people use a simple UTILITY BILL as ID to vote, so No state is requiring a drivers license. That is simply the most common photo id folks have.

I find the argument comical about college students from other states.

Haygood represents a group of black students who want to vote in Texas but were born in other states. The new law allows handgun licenses to serve as voter identification but not student IDs

Maybe the transient college student population from another state paying out of state tuition (non residents) shouldn’t vote in the local elections? Just like I cannot go to Oklahoma to cast a vote since I am a resident of kansas.

But really – how many college students do NOT HAVE A PHOTO ID? Somehow they can go to the bank and get student loan checks, buy beer and tobacco showing ID. I do not recall anybody I went to college with that had no drivers license. They may have left their cars at home, but everyone had a goverment ID.

These arguments seem to really stretch the bounds of reason – to justify the concept that having an ID in the 21st century represents a hardship. How many of these same folks bought airline tickets for spring break in Florida – - -need an ID at the airport – - or Cancun! Need a passport! nobody screaming about the undue burden of the 140 dollar passport fees.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2777 days

#7 posted 07-09-2012 05:07 PM

Here in Maryland a photo ID is required for almost everything EXCEPT voting – go figure. Oh and to get a driver’s license or state photo ID, two forms of residency (nothing here about being legal or not) – telephone bill and power bill.

If you have the wrong social security #, no worries, SSA will give you one, now your a US citizen without the paperwork – and SSA will give you a medical card and beneifits on a signature but you must go to the non-english speaking isle only. My daughter watched this happen while she was trying to help a friend get benefits who is a citizen with cerebral palsy (who was denied benefits). The people in the next isle had no papers, no ID and only spoke spanish and they were given $200 a month on a re-charging visa debit card, medical for them and their family, and forwarded to the offices for food stamps and other services – all in spanish. My daughter just happens to be fluent in many languages. AND they tell us there there is no money.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2777 days

#8 posted 07-09-2012 05:14 PM

Heard on the radio today that the Border Patrol is closing about 15 or more offices in Texas and west. This is done so the local law inforcement do not have any federal people to turn over ANY illegals along the southern border. —BUT—if you cross the Canadian border (people that do watch things in their and our interests), you will be arrested immediately.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3136 days

#9 posted 07-09-2012 05:56 PM

Showing a valid voter registration card should be enough to cast a vote. It is up to the county voter registrar to determine eligibility, and once that is completed and the voter registration card is issued, that should be all that is required. Any further conditions seem to me to be unlawful interference in the person’s right to vote. My eligibility is between me and my voter registrar and it is nobody else’s d*mn business. If there is a problem then fix the registration process and/or issue more secure registration cards.

I have seen reports that the number of people that would have a tough time complying with the new Texas law to be a hundred or thousand times the number of cases of alleged voter fraud. It seems to me that it was an editorial cartoon in the Houston Chronicle. Hard to know what is true. I do know that the low end of the economic distribution in Texas extends quite low, and people with that little money live very differently than I do. So I don’t think people in the upper or even middle of the economic distribution really have any idea whether a certain requirement is trivial to comply with for those at the low end.

I also heard that another component of the new Texas “voter fraud” law eliminated voting – early voting I suppose – on Sundays. Apparently some communities have a history of “get-out-the-vote” activities that included a trip to the voting places after church services. I strongly suspect this was an intended consequence.

I strongly suspect that the recent “voter fraud” efforts are exactly attempts to discourage voting by certain populations. The “fraud” claim rings very hollow.

I urge you all to be very suspicious of those intending to change the rules.

-- Greg D.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3136 days

#10 posted 07-09-2012 06:31 PM

A recent Houston Chronicle article on the subject.

Yes, the “fraud” claim rings very, very hollow.

-- Greg D.

View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2865 days

#11 posted 07-09-2012 08:39 PM

It is pretty hard to prove voter fraud. after all here in MD all you have to do is tell them your name, you vote then you leave, unless you are caught in the act I don’t see any way to prove it.

In 2008 I had them tell me I wasn’t on the list but I wouldn’t give up and I was magically found. I could have claimed to be anybody in my district that hadn’t voted yet.

I have to show ID to buy the cold medicine that actually works, get into work, write a check, buy beer, pick up my mail at the post office if its been held, to pick up a perscription, board an airplane, and I had to show ID to take the ACT and tests in freshman Chemistry and Physics in college.

I bet that if anyone that could show an ID would get a free carton of smokes and a case of beer those “too poor” to afford ID’s would be whipping them out at the speed of sound.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3136 days

#12 posted 07-09-2012 09:09 PM

patcollins – I see no problem if a state wants to require voters to show their voter registration card. Why isn’t that good enough? I’d be happy to show my ID for a case of beer, but that certainly isn’t true of everyone and seems beside the point.

-- Greg D.

View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2865 days

#13 posted 07-09-2012 09:57 PM

Well Maryland doesnt have a voter registration card, not sure how many states do, are they actually used for anything?

Edit: Turns out we get a “voter notification card” that is just paper and tells us where to vote, which changes occasionally. I would say asking people to keep this paper card to vote would be more of a hassle than something they should actually hang onto like a drivers liscense.

Edit again: I’ve always thought we should have a national identification card to keep from using our social security number as a defacto national identification number. I think identiy thieves should be strung up on a fire ant hill and coated with honey.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3676 days

#14 posted 07-09-2012 11:10 PM

WA does, but we were established long after the king lost jurisdiction. Maybe that is why MD doesn’t. The king didn’t allow voting when MD was established ;-)

On the Down side of WA; we had and may still have “Motor Voter.” When you go get a driver’s license, they ask you if you want to register to vote? Not is you are a citizen, just if you want to vote. They registered anyone who wanted to vote, citizen or not and well as give any one who passes the test a driver’s license. That is one of the reasons we had to get passports to get back form Canada a few years back. WA DL didn’t prove anything except you have passed the DL test.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3676 days

#15 posted 07-09-2012 11:12 PM

I agree on ID theft or maybe drawn and quartered after tarring and feathering!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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