Texas voting rights back into question

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July 26, 2013

By Kristen Mathews

Texas

On Thursday, July 25, Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, announced that the Justice Department will ask a court to require Texas to get federal approval before making changes to election laws.[1] This comes on the heels of a recent Supreme Court decision which required Congress to remove a section from the Voting Rights Act. This section required 16 jurisdictions, many of them Southern states with a history of discrimination, to get preclearance for any voting law changes. The section will remain overturned until Congress changes the standard by which the jurisdictions are chosen.[2]

Holder stated that Texas should continue to be one of the states requiring approval from federal courts for changes because of discrimination claims in redistricting efforts as recently as 2012.[3][4] In 2011, a change in Texas election laws which would require a voter ID was denied by both the Justice Department and the Washington Court. With the recently overturned section, this voter ID law will become effective.[2]

Holder's request has been met with plenty of opposition from Texas officials. In response to the New York Time's story on Holder's actions, Attorney General Greg Abbott tweeted "I'll fight #Obama's effort to control our elections & I'll fight against cheating at ballot box,"[5] Texas governor Rick Perry accused Holder's remarks as demonstrating “utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances.” Perry felt Holder's plan would weaken the state's voter-integrity laws and elections process.[1]

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