Update: The Status of Redistricting and Voter ID in Federal Courts

Friday, September 14, 2012
Update: The Status of Redistricting and Voter ID in Federal Courts

After federal courts shot down the new Texas photo ID law and the GOP-drawn redistricting maps, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Governor Rick Perry pledged to appeal both decisions to the Supreme Court.

The photo ID law, which would require citizens to present government-issued photo ID at the polling booths, is a clear attempt to strip minorities of their right to vote:

“African Americans have drivers’ licenses at half the rate of whites, and only 22% of black men aged 18-24 nation-wide have a valid driver’s license…The court said the requirements would most heavily hurt African-Americans and Hispanics, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the poor in Texas.  The court further pointed out that more than a quarter of the counties lack operating DMVs, which would force individuals to travel more than 250 miles round trip to obtain an ID.”

Luckily, Abbott’s appeal will most likely go unanswered for the upcoming election, according to analysis by the Texas Tribune:

“But voters shouldn’t expect to see anything change ahead of this year's general election, meaning that photo IDs probably won't be required to vote in the state in November. Because the court’s voter ID ruling was the result of a lawsuit also challenging Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, and because the state has pending litigation over those requirements, the voter ID case is in limbo”

The federal court’s ruling on the voting maps will not affect this upcoming election, but an interim map has been drawn by a San Antonio Federal Court to prevent discrimination:

“Through the trial, the three-judge panel appeared skeptical of Texas' arguments. The presiding judge, Rosemary Collyer, at one point told Texas' lawyers flatly, "It's really hard to explain (changes to the map) other than doing it on the basis of reducing minority votes."

In the coming weeks and months, we will have more information on these cases as they move through the courts, and be sure to share the best resources on these issues. Stay tuned to Progress Texas for more.

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