The Justice Department has rejected Texas’ new voter ID law, saying the state did not prove conclusively that the photo ID required to vote would not discriminate against Latinos. In fact, the Justice Department said the photo ID requirement would make voting harder for many of the state’s Latinos.
“A Hispanic registered voter is at least 46.5 percent, and potentially 120 percent, more likely than a non-Hispanic registered voter to lack the required identification,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokeswoman from the Justice Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Pérez sent a letter to the director of Texas’ elections division today explaining the decision. In the letter, Pérez cites reasons why the photo ID requirement would be very difficult for many Latino registered voters.
Acccording to Pérez, about 7 percent of Latino registered voters do not have a vehicle to go to a driver’s license office to obtain a photo ID. Moreover, 81 of 254 counties in Texas do not have operational driver’s license offices where registered voters are supposed to obtain the photo ID.
“During the legislative hearings,” says Pérez, “one senator stated that some voters in his district could have to travel up to 176 miles roundtrip in order to reach a driver’s license office.”
Republican state representative José Aliseda voted in favor of the voter ID law, saying this was the best way to prevent voter fraud. Today Aliseda criticized the Justice Department’s decision.
“Once again, the Obama Justice Department is putting politics ahead of common sense. You need an ID to cash a check or even rent a movie,” says Aliseda. “The idea that Hispanics don’t have IDs is absurd.”
But Latino Democrats such as state senator Mario Gallegos were pleased with the Justice Department’s ruling. “It was one of the most hate-mongering, mean-spirited bills I have ever seen,” Gallegos said.