Quietly on Friday afternoon, the Department of Justice denied the State of Texas the ability to implement the newly enacted Voter ID law. This was predicted and it also includes the Texas re-districting map. The questions from DOJ are legitimate, considering the troubled past Texas, along with other states, has had on voter rights.
The federal Voting Rights Act requires that Texas, along with other states, to receive federal permission before implementing changes to voter rights in election law. In this case, concern was raised as to how the new requirement of producing a piece of identification with a photo before casting a vote would be performed. State issued photo ids are required but do not include state university issued ids. The estimated 600,000 voters without proper photo ids such as drivers licenses or military id or passports or hand gun license are of concern. The legislation did, however, create a document specifically for these voters – an election certificate is a state issued photo id acceptable at the polling place.
The DOJ wants specifics as to how voter education will be conducted and the statistics of those who are without proper identification at this time.
State Rep Patricia Harless considers the questions reasonable. She stated that the secretary of state’s office would be able to get the information to DOJ in a timely manner.
Redistricting maps are in question and this is more political in nature. As to be expected, in a large state, the new districting measures are questioned. These maps also require federal pre-clearance to go into effect.
The DOJ has sixty days to review the paperwork. The goal is for everything to be settled by primary voting time next March. With the anticipated appeals, it should still be doable.