Thursday, November 17, 2011

DOJ Defers Voter ID Law Decision

It is a clear signal to me, at least, that the Department of Justice is running out of patience with the people who run elections in Texas: Republicans in charge of state elections.

In a letter issued by the head of the Voting Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the director of elections for the state of Texas was informed that she had not provided the information originally requested by the DOJ to be used to determine whether SB 14, the Voter ID Bill, recently rammed through a Republican-super-dominated state legislature earlier this year, violated the rights of minority voters.

The reason, ostensibly, is that Texas does not require information on race on their voter registration forms, something that they cutely must think demonstrates that Texas is blind to race.

But the Elections Department made it very clear in its reply that this information could be gleaned simply by identifying, say, Hispanic voters by their surnames. Information that has not been forthcoming from the Elections Division. In fact, the date of submission of that information was never specified.

Consequently, the DOJ will not be issuing a ruling in regard to the legality of this law in view of the Voting Rights Act, an act that makes special requirements for voting laws passed by states that previously discriminated against minority voters anytime soon.

Certainly not by the January 1st deadline, when the Voter ID Law was supposed to be in force.

And one wonders whether it will be in force by the time the Texas primary rolls around in March.

What is clear to anyone with any knowledge of election strategy is that the purpose of this law was to deny minority voters (and for that, read Democratic voters) of their voting rights. Republicans have been working this scheme since the 80’s.

What is very clear to me is that the Elections Department and the DOJ are in a staring contest, and the DOJ has just indicated that it is willing for this to go on for an indefinite amount of time.

Time is, after all on their side.

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