U.S. Department of Justice sues Texas over Voter ID

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The U.S. Department of Justice has previously filed a Section 3 claim under the Voting Rights Act against the State of Texas for its discriminatory redistricting maps.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped the other shoe, as anticipated, suing the State of Texas for its Voter ID law. You can read the DOJ complaint
Here.

The Washington Post reports Justice Department sues Texas over voter ID law:

The Justice Department on Thursday redoubled its efforts to challenge
state voting laws, suing Texas over its new voter ID measure as part of
a growing political showdown over electoral rights.

The move marked the latest bid by the Obama administration to
counter a Supreme Court ruling that officials have said threatens the
voting rights of minorities. It also signaled that the administration
will probably take legal action in voting rights cases in other states,
including North Carolina, where the governor signed a voter ID law this
month.

On Thursday, the Justice Department said it will rely on another section of the act [Section 2] to contend that the Texas voter ID measure was “adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.”

The Texas law sets strict requirements for the types of
government-issued photo ID that must be presented at polling places.
Texas argues that the requirements are intended to curb voter fraud.* The
suit filed by Justice says the state “knew or should have known that
Hispanic and African-American Texans disproportionately lack the forms
of photo ID required” by the law.

“We will not allow the Supreme
Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to
pursue measures that suppress voting rights,” Attorney General Eric H.
Holder Jr. said in a statement. “We will keep fighting aggressively to
prevent voter disenfranchisement. . . . This represents the department’s
latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last.”

* PolitiFact (I am well aware of its questionable credibility) looked at instances of "voter fraud" in Texas in 2012. PolitiFact Texas | Greg Abbott claims 50 election fraud convictions since 2002:

Texas’ attorney general, Greg Abbott, issued a press release saying: "Since 2002 … election fraud investigations by the Texas Attorney General's Office have resulted in 50 convictions."

We asked Abbott’s office for backup on his statement, and spokesman Jerry Strickland sent a list of 57 election fraud prosecutions, as well as documents showing how the cases were resolved.

We also asked how many election fraud cases had been referred to the
attorney general’s office since 2002. Abbott’s list shows 311
accusations of election fraud spanning 2002-12. The 57 investigations
we’re checking represent only those cases that were both prosecuted and
resolved.

Six of the prosecutions ended in dismissal or acquittal, Strickland
told us by telephone, leaving 51 prosecutions that resulted in
convictions.

By our analysis, three-quarters of the cases involved election code violations classified as "illegal voting" — which includes
acts such as voting more than once, impersonating a voter or voting
despite ineligibility — and "method of returning marked ballot," often
meaning the defendant was accused of having someone else’s ballot.

Only two cases are described as "voter impersonation" on the list.
Whether voter impersonation is a standing problem has been a hot button
in the state’s legislative debates over proposed voter ID laws[.]

* * *

Looking at all 57 election fraud prosecutions from 2002 to 2012, we
tallied up the resolutions (some had multiple outcomes, when charges
were pursued as separate cases):

  • Specified as convictions: 26
  • Guilty plea resulting in conviction: 2
  • Deferred adjudication: 19
  • Pre-trial diversion: 10
  • Acquitted: 2
  • Dismissed: 4

For clarification of the middle two categories, we turned to the Texas
District and County Attorneys Association, an Austin-based nonprofit
that provides continuing legal education and technical assistance to
prosecutors.

The group’s executive director, Rob Kepple, told us in an interview
that although deferred adjudication falls short of a conviction, he
would not consider it a stretch to classify it with the convictions.

* * *

[A] pre-trial diversion is not a conviction, he said. There’s not even necessarily a guilty plea or admission of guilt.

"There’s no way you can mistake a pre-trial diversion for a conviction, I don’t think."

Let's be clear: Voter ID is specifically intended to prevent in-person impersonation of a voter at the polls. Texas had only two investigations over a 10 year period (it is not clear that thrre was a conviction). This is a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist.

More broadly, "voter fraud" charges in Texas resulted in 57 investigations over a 10 year period, or slightly more than 5 investigations per year. The investigations resulted in 28 convictions or guilty pleas over that 10 year period, or 2.8 cases per year. The hysterical overreaction by right-wing wingnuts that their vote is being diluted by "voter fraud" is simply ludicrous. The outcome of no election was affected.

The News21 investigation from August 2012 found, Comprehensive Database of US Voter Fraud Uncovers No Evidence That Photo ID Is Needed:

A News21 analysis of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000
shows that while fraud has occurred, the rate is infinitesimal, and
in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which prompted 37 state
legislatures to enact or consider tough voter ID laws, is virtually
non-existent
.

In an exhaustive public records search, News21 reporters sent
thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for
every case of fraudulent activity including registration fraud,
absentee ballot fraud, vote buying, false election counts, campaign
fraud, casting an ineligible vote, voting twice, voter impersonation
fraud and intimidation.

Analysis of the resulting comprehensive News21 election fraud
database turned up 10 cases of voter impersonation. With 146 million
registered voters in the United States during that time, those 10 cases
represent one out of about every 15 million prospective voters.

“Voter fraud at the polls is an insignificant aspect of American
elections,” said elections expert David Schultz, professor of public
policy at Hamline University School of Business in St. Paul, Minn.

“There is absolutely no evidence that (voter impersonation fraud)
has affected the outcome of any election in the United States, at least
any recent election in the United States,” Schultz said.

What Neo-Confederate dead-ender Texas politicians object to is the federal guvmint trampling upon their sovereign "states' rights" — code for segregation:

Texas Republicans said the move smacked of federal interference and
vowed to fight it. The lawsuit drew a particularly sharp response from
Gov. Rick Perry, who accused Holder and President Obama of filing
“endless litigation in an effort to obstruct the will of the people of
Texas.”

“We will continue to defend the integrity of our
elections against this administration’s blatant disregard for the 10th
Amendment,” Perry said. The amendment sets limits on federal powers.

Sen.
John Cornyn (R), a member of the Judiciary Committee and a former Texas
attorney general, struck a similar note of outrage. “Facts mean little
to a politicized Justice Department bent on inserting itself into the
sovereign affairs of Texas and a lame-duck Administration trying to turn
our state blue,” Cornyn said in a statement. “As Texans we reject the
notion that the federal government knows what’s best for us.”

It is Sen, John Cornyn who is ignoring the facts — see the analyses above — and as for that "Tenther" nonsense we constantly here from Neo-Confederate conservatives, I would refer you to the 14th Amendment, Section 3 (insurrection and rebellion clause) which gives the federal government the power to decide whether Confederate states are to be admitted back into the Union, and Section 1 which prohibits "any State [to] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws" of the United States. The 14th Amendment reaffirmed the federal supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2, in the wake of a bloody Civil War.

The 15th Amendment, Section 1, guaranteed that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied
or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race,
color, or previous condition of servitude,: and Section 2 gave the federal government the exclusive power to enforce this right to vote: "The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

So all those Neo-Confederate dead-enders spouting "Tenther" nonsense can just STFU. And reporters who stenographically report what these "Tenthers" say should include the post-Civil War amendments to refute their nonsense.

UPDATE: Texas Tribune:
“A fight against the state’s contentious voter ID laws escalated this
week when Dallas County became the first Texas county to claim that the
requirements would disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters.”

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