Virginia’s new voter ID bill likely illegal

February 15, 2013 | | MSNBC.com |

The right is working to have a key provision of the Voting Rights Act declared unconstitutional. But voting rights advocates say a harsh new voter ID bill pushed by Republicans in Virginia is the latest example of why it’s still needed.

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Recent prior cases suggest the Virginia bill wouldn’t pass muster. Last year, under Section 5, the Obama Justice Department blocked Texas and South Carolina laws that would have required voters to show a photo ID, and federal courts sided with DoJ. In the Texas case, the court found, among other things, that the cost of obtaining a photo ID would fall most heavily on racial minorities.

“This is the same kind of restrictive ID provision that [the Justice Department] rejected in Texas and South Carolina because it had a racially discriminatory impact,” Brenda Wright, a voting rights expert at Demos told MSNBC.com via email, refrring to Virginia’s proposed law. “It’s simply inviting a Section 5 objection.”