Letter To The DOJ To Protect Voting Rights In Texas
Letter To The DOJ To Protect Voting Rights In Texas
We, the undersigned -- non-partisan, not-for-profit organizations that work across the country and in Texas to protect the voting rights of African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans -- write to oppose the preclearance of Texas’s Senate Photo Voter Identification law, Bill 14 (“SB14” or “Act”). The State of Texas has failed to meet the dual burden of proving (1) that SB14 was enacted for a non-discriminatory purpose, and (2) that SB14 does not have a discriminatory effect on minority voting strength. Accordingly, the Attorney General should interpose an objection to SB14.
SB14 goes beyond merely requiring a photo ID to vote; it changes the entire process for voting in the State. Specifically, the current law, the benchmark against which the proposed changes must be judged for purposes of Section 5, allows a voter to cast a regular ballot simply by showing his/her voter registration certificate, which does not have a photograph. Additional identification is required only when the voter cannot present his/her certificate, and acceptable forms of additional identification include utility bills, paychecks, and other non-photo IDs. In sharp contrast, the proposed law, SB14, requires voters to present one of several very specific photo identification documents in order to cast a regular ballot, even if the voter has a voter registration certificate and appears on the precinct’s voter registration list. These proposed changes -- both in the process and in the types of acceptable identification -- are unjustified and are unlawful under the Voting Rights Act.
Specifically, the State has failed to carry either of the burdens necessary to achieve preclearance for SB14. It has failed completely to proffer any evidence that SB14 was enacted for a non-discriminatory purpose, and the evidence demonstrates otherwise. The State has also failed to proffer any evidence that the Act will not have the effect of denying or abridging the minority vote, and all of the available data indicate that the Act will negatively and disproportionately impact the voting rights of minority citizens in the State of Texas. In light of this, preclearance must be denied. See State of Georgia v. Ashcroft, 195 F. Supp. 2d 25, 74 (D.D.C. 2002) (“[T]his rule mandates that preclearance be denied . . . if a new system places minority voters in a weaker position than the existing system.” (citation omitted)).
I. SUMMARY OF THE CURRENT LAW AND THE PROPOSED
Currently, a Texas voter may cast a regular ballot in any election in Texas upon the presentation of his/her voter registration certificate, which does not contain the voter’s photograph. See Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 63.0001 (Regular Procedure for Accepting Voters). If the voter’s name appears on the precinct list of registered voters, the voter must be accepted for voting. Id. Only if a voter does not have his/her voter registration certificate is the voter required to present proof of identification if s/he wants to cast a regular ballot. Id. § 63.008 (a), § 63.009 (b). An “acceptable proof of identification,” under the benchmark plan, includes the following:
(1) [A] driver's license or personal identification card issued to the person by the Department of Public Safety or a similar document issued to the person by an agency of another state, regardless of whether the license or card has expired;
(2) [A] form of identification containing the person's photograph that establishes the person's identity;
(3) [A] birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person's identity;
(4) United States citizenship papers issued to the person;
(5) [A] United States passport issued to the person;
(6) [A]n official [piece of] mail addressed to the person by name from a governmental entity;
(7) [A] copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter; or
(8) [A]ny other form of identification prescribed by the secretary of state.
Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 63.0101.
A voter is required to vote provisionally only if s/he does not have his/her voter registration certificate and does not have one of the many forms of identification allowed under current law. See Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 63.011. In other words, a provisional ballot is used as an absolute last resort for voters whose identification cannot be verified at the polls.
On May 27, 2011, Gov. Rick Perry signed into law SB14, which amends relevant provisions of the Texas Election Code and the Texas Transportation Code so to require all voters to produce one of the following in order to vote by regular ballot:
· A Texas-issued driver’s license, a Texas state identification card, a license to carry a concealed handgun, a U.S. military card, or a U.S. passport, each of which must be current or have expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation; or
· A U.S. citizenship certificate that contains a photograph of the voter.
See Senate Bill 14, Charter 123, 82nd Legislature 2011, available at http://www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/bills/sb/SB14.pdf.
A voter who does not present a current or recently-expired form of photo identification when appearing to vote at the polling place and who does not fall within the scope of the Act’s very narrow exemptions, may vote provisionally. The Act permits election officials to count a voter’s provisional ballot only if the voter presents an acceptable photo ID within six days of casting the provisional ballot.
The Act also requires, among other things, the Department of Public Safety to issue an election identification certificate free of charge to those who request it for voting purposes. The Secretary of State and local election officials also must develop voter education programs, create training programs for polling place officials, and revise election forms and postings, beginning on September 1, 2011.
Finally, the Act reclassifies the offenses of fraud and attempted fraud in voting and increases the penalties for these criminal acts, to as much as 20 years in prison and as much as $10,000 in fines for those convicted of fraud. See Tex. Penal Code § 12.33 (Second Degree Felony Punishment).
On July 25, 2011, Texas submitted its request for preclearance of SB14 to the U.S. Department of Justice (“DoJ,” “Justice,” or “Department”). See Letter from Ann McGeehan, Director of Elections, Texas Secretary of State to T. Christian Herren, Jr., Chief Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice (July 25, 2011) (“Submission Letter”).
For the reasons set forth below, the Attorney General must interpose an objection to SB14.
II. SB14 WAS ENACTED FOR A DISCRIMINATORY PURPOSE.
In assessing whether a piece of legislation was enacted with a discriminatory purpose, the Department must undertake a “sensitive inquiry into such circumstantial and direct evidence of intent as may be available.” Village of Arlington Heights v. Met. Housing Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 266 (1977). As the Supreme Court made clear in Arlington Heights, the “starting point” of this analysis is whether the “official action . . . bears more heavily on one race than another.” Id.(quotation & citation omitted). Other factors that should be considered include (1) the “historical background” of the jurisdiction’s decision; (2) “the specific sequence of events leading up to the challenged decision”; (3) whether there were any departures from the “normal procedural sequence”; and (4) the “legislative or administrative history.” Id. at 266-68.
Instead of providing any proof whatsoever that SB14 was enacted for a non-discriminatory reason, Texas relies solely on its self-serving claim that “[t]he Act does not have the intent and will not have the effect of diluting the voting strength of any racial or linguistic minority.” Submission Letter at 10. This statement is woefully inadequate to meet its burden of proof. And, as outlined below, it is inconsistent with the facts. Indeed, all five factors indicate that SB14 was enacted for a discriminatory purpose.
A. The Act’s Discriminatory Impact Evidences Its Discriminatory Purpose.__________________________________________________
As set forth in detail below, voters of color will suffer negatively and disproportionately if SB14 is allowed to proceed to implementation. Specifically, voters of color are disproportionately less likely to possess the required forms of identification and do not have the same access to those forms of identification (or to the “free” election identification certificate, for that matter) as their White counterparts. Under the benchmark plan, an elector may vote after presenting his/her voter registration certificate or, in lieu of that, another form of non-photographic identification. Because the Act prohibits a voter from voting unless s/he presents a photo ID, voters of color will not be able to exercise their franchise to the same degree as White voters and their voting strength will be diluted. This important Arlington Heights factor evidences discriminatory intent.
B. Texas’s Long and Infamous History of Suppressing the Minority Vote Evidences the Act’s Discriminatory Purpose.______________
Texas’s history of suppressing the rights of voters of color is long and painful. As set forth in the declaration of Dr. F. Chandler Davidson (“Davidson Decl.”) (attached as Exhibit A), an expert on voting discrimination in Texas, the State has employed simple-minded as well as sophisticated tactics to suppress the minority vote.
1. Voter Suppression in Texas 1845-65: Limiting the
Discriminatory voting practices in Texas date back to 1845, when the State achieved statehood. Davidson Decl. at ¶ 7. It began with the oppression of Mexican-Americans and expanded from there. Id. at ¶ 8. Early efforts focused on preventing citizens from organizing. Id.
2. Emancipation and Reconstruction
The emancipation of slaves in 1865 did little to improve the rights of Black and Brown voters when it came to electoral politics. Id. at ¶ 9. An all-White constitutional convention refused to grant suffrage to Blacks, even literate Blacks, and refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment forbidding states from depriving citizens equal protection of the law. Id.
During Reconstruction, Blacks achieved some level of political participation, with Blacks voting, serving on convention committees, and ultimately securing at least two state senatorial seats. Id. at ¶ 11-12. But that participation was short-lived.
3. Post-Reconstruction Backlash: Restrictions to the
The end of Reconstruction in 1873 brought about an end to the gains achieved by Blacks during Reconstruction. Gerrymandering cut the number of Black legislators sharply. Id. at ¶ 16. And intimidation and violence were used to suppress turnout among voters of color. Id.
Discriminatory practices by the State to disenfranchise voters of color continued into the 1900s. In 1902, the Teas Constitution was amended to impose the poll tax, and in 1903 and 1905, lawmakers passed restrictive registration laws. Id. By 1906, Blacks were not a force in electoral politics. Id. It was as though Reconstruction had never happened in Texas.
When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (“NAACP”) was established in 1910, Blacks began participating more and more in civic groups and pressing their rights through litigation. Id. at ¶ 17. Until 1923, White primaries -- primaries in which only Whites could vote -- operated at the discretion of county executive committees. That year, however, the legislature passed a law preventing Blacks from participating in any primary elections. Id. That law was challenged by a Black physician, and in 1927, the United States Supreme Court struck the law down, finding an equal protection violation. See Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U.S. 536 (1927). In response, the state legislature shifted authority so as to prohibit Black participation in state executive committees. Id. at ¶ 18. The same physician challenged this action, and the United States Supreme Court struck this law as well, finding that the committees lacked authority to act for the State and making clear that the State convention had such authority. See Nixon v. Condon, 286 U.S. 73 (1932).
Predictably, the State convention then adopted a rule excluding Blacks from its primaries. A Black Houstonian challenged this law. Id. The Supreme Court upheld this law, finding that political parties were voluntary associations and, thus, could restrict participation. See Grovey v. Townsend, 295 U.S. 45 (1935). In the 1940s, a Black woman named Lonnie Smith was prevented from voting in the Texas Democratic primary, and she challenged this treatment in a 1942 lawsuit. In this case, the Supreme Court found that because primaries are regulated by Texas law, the convention was an agency of the State, and the law violated the Fifteenth Amendment’s protection against racial discrimination in voting. See Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944). This decision marked the end of the White primaries in Texas, once and for all. Davidson Decl. at ¶ 18.
After the Smith decision, Black and Brown voters began to emerge as a political force in Texas. Id. at ¶ 21. As a result of legislative reapportionment in 1966, Blacks were nominated to posts above the level of precinct chair for the first time since Reconstruction. Id. at ¶ 22. And, in that year, Barbara Jordan, a Black attorney, won a seat in the Texas legislature. Id.
In 1964, the Twenty-fourth Amendment abolished the poll tax in federal elections. Id. at ¶ 24. And, in 1966, the Supreme Court abolished its use in state and local elections. In order to prevent voters of color from electing candidates of their choice, Whites began voting in blocs. Id. at ¶ 25. This resulted in the dilution of the minority vote. Id. In 1973, the Supreme Court held this practice to be unconstitutional in the context of redistricting. Other vote dilution cases followed, which produced an increase in Black and Brown legislators in the 1970s. Id.
4. The Voting Rights Act and Post-VRA Suppression
Tactics in Texas________________________________
In 1975, recognizing Texas’s long history of disenfranchising voters of color, Congress included Texas was the jurisdictions subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Since that time, Texas has been required to secure preclearance of any law, practice, or procedure that affects voting. This oversight, however, did not mark the end of voting discrimination in Texas. Since 1965, the State of Texas has engaged in at least two types of discriminatory practices against voters of color: (1) intimidation at polling sites, and (2) passage of laws designed to diminish minority voting strength. Id. at ¶ 31.
According to Dr. Davidson, the former practice has gotten very little media attention, at least not until his study in 2004. In this study, Dr. Davidson and three colleagues looked at four incidents in Texas in the 1980s involving efforts by White conservatives to purportedly prevent voter fraud in elections by intimidating voters. Id. at ¶ 32. Dr. Davidson provides a detailed account of one of these incidents that paints a disturbing picture of the desperate measures that White Texans had undertaken to keep minority voters from voting. See id. at ¶¶ 33-43.
Voter intimidation continued, but was implemented with even more fervor after the 2010 elections, when the country saw record turnouts of Black and Brown voters. In that year, a new Texas group, known as the King Street Patriots, was formed. Id. at ¶ 44. Its principal mission appears to be to harass voters in minority precincts, in the guise of preventing fraud. Id. at ¶ 44. This Texas group has now gone national. Id.
The other form of discriminatory practice is of the type at issue
here -- -- that is, laws that are allegedly aimed at preventing fraud, but, in truth, are motivated by a discriminatory purpose and have a discriminatory effect. Id. at ¶ 45. Texas’s photo ID law was first pressed by State lawmakers in 2006 and was reintroduced in the next two sessions, but it failed each time, id. -- as it should have been given that there was no evidence that in-person impersonation was a problem in the State of Texas. This was made clear by a study that Dr. Davidson conducted in 2008. This study was the results of an effort undertaken by the State’s Attorney General’s Office to crack down on so-called voter fraud. This effort was conceived by then Attorney General of the State, Greg Abbott, after the first photo ID bill failed to pass. At that time, he announced a “training initiative to identify, prosecute, [and] prevent voter fraud,” claiming that voter fraud was an epidemic in the State. Id. at ¶ 46.
The Attorney General publicized the results of his initiative, which Dr. Davidson analyzed in 2008. Dr. Davidson’s findings were clear: He found that out of the millions of people voting in the State of Texas, the Attorney General had indicted, convicted, or sentenced only 13 people in a two-year period. Id. at ¶ 48. By the date of his study, six of the 13 had not yet been found guilty of any crime. Id. More telling, however, is the fact that none of the 13 were accused or convicted of in-person impersonation; most involved “either political officials who were charged with engaging in illegal efforts to affect the election outcome, or persons who had helped elderly or disabled friends with their mail-in ballots, apparently unaware of a law passed in 2003 requiring them to sign the envelope containing the friend’s ballot.” Id. In other words, “none of the [13 matters] involved voter impersonation at the polls.” Id. (emphasis original).
Despite this data, in 2009, Republicans pressed the photo ID law again, but it was again defeated. Id. at ¶ 49. It was not until 2011, after conservatives had gained control of the Legislature, that the restrictive photo ID law, SB14, passed.
As Dr. Davidson opines about SB14:
[O]ne major purpose of the recently passed photo ID law is to discriminate against citizens of color, particularly Black and Brown voters. In this respect, it is very much in the tradition of Texas’ politically expressed racism that has been deeply imbedded in [the] state’s history since statehood in 1845.
Id. at ¶ 52. Texas’s troubling history evidences that SB14 was enacted for a discriminatory purpose.
C. The Legislative History of SB14 -- Both the Sequence of Events Leading Up to Its Enactment and the Departures from Normal Procedures -- Evidences Its Discriminatory Purpose.___________
Both the sequence of events and departures from the normal procedures surrounding the enactment of SB14 provide additional proof of the Act’s discriminatory purpose.
First, Governor Rick Perry took the unusual and rare step of designating photo ID as a “legislative emergency,” removing a standard procedural requirement barring legislators from taking a vote on legislation during the first 60 days of the session.See, e.g., Dave Montgomery, Governor Gives Voter ID Bill Emergency Status in Legislative Session, Star-Telegram, Jan. 20, 2011, available at http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/01/20/2785084/governor-gives-voter-id-... designed the bill as a “legislative emergency” specifically to prevent opponents from using procedural rules, as they had done during debate of photo ID legislation in 2009, to delay vote on the legislation. See, e.g., Reeve Hamilton, Perry Declares More Emergency Items, Including Voter ID, Texas Tribune, Jan. 20, 2011, available at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-legislature/texas-legislature/perry-emergency-items-including-voter-id/.
A second departure from normal procedure was a vote taken by the Texas Senate exempting the photo ID bill from the rule requiring a supermajority vote for a bill to reach floor debate. See, e.g., Gary Scharrer, Senate Minority Keeps Its Clout – Except for Voter ID. Voter ID Legislation Made an Exception as Tradition Otherwise Maintained, San Antonio Express-News, Jan. 20, 2011, available at http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/ politics/texas_legislature/article/Senate-minority-keeps-its-clout-except-for-966981.php. The Senate voted 18-11 to keep this rule in place, but specifically exempted the photo ID bill. Id. According to Representative Todd Smith, chair of the House Elections Committee, the rule change was “designed to prevent a repeat of last year's stalling maneuvers” on photo ID. Dave Montgomery, Governor Gives Voter ID Bill Emergency Status in Legislative Session, Star-Telegram, Jan. 20, 2011, available at http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/01/20/2785084/governor-gives-voter-id-bill-emergency.html.
Finally, there were allegations of secret meetings among the bill’s proponents related to adoption of a conference committee report on photo ID and final amendments to the legislation. During debate in the House, State Rep. Patricia Harless, the House sponsor of the legislation, introduced a last-minute resolution to “go outside the bounds” of the committee and amend the final version of the bill to include matters not raised in conference, related to provisions requiring the state to issue a free state ID to voters without acceptable ID and to exemptions from the ID requirement based on religious belief. See, e.g., Julian Aguilar, House Adopts Voter ID Conference Report, Texas Tribune, May 16, 2011, available at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-legislature/82nd-legislative-session/house-adopts-voter-id-conference-report/. During the debate regarding the free ID provision, the bill’s opponents challenged the procedures, specifically charging that there had not been a public hearing or public notice on debate of the provisions.
Texas lawmakers have acknowledged, (and the legislative history reinforces), that proponents of SB14 took concerted measures to depart from normal procedure specifically to push forward passage of the photo ID bill without the usual level of legislative debate and scrutiny and the normal parliamentary procedures. And, they offered no substantive justifications for such departures. This sequence of events and these significant procedural departures -- without any justification -- further evidence the discriminatory purpose of SB14.
D. The Legislative Record -- Including Statements by Lawmakers -- Evidences the Discriminatory Purpose of SB14._______________
The debate among lawmakers regarding SB14 shows that the “integrity of the voting process” is not the real purpose of the Act. While a supporter of the law referenced voter fraud during a debate on the Act, she was unable to point to any actual evidence that voter fraud is a problem and ignored completely the claims of disparate impact by opponents of the Act.
Specifically, after being reminded that this law would be subject to Section 5, when questioned about the fraud issue, Representative Patricia Harless, a sponsor of the Act, admitted that there was no evidence of this problem in Texas and that the law was being pressed because other states had done so.
Rep. Harless: We heard testimony in committee . . . of many people suggesting that that occurred and --
Rep. Marc Veasey: Suggesting that occurred and had producing [sic] evidence that that occurred are two different things.
Rep. Harless: And I understand that and I appreciate that and I appreciate in the vain that you’re offering this but the whole purpose of having a photo ID is so that when you go to the polls you are showing proof of who you are. We’ve laid out the criteria and that’s the bill basically because at that point you can just sign an affidavit and say you’re who you’re saying you are without proving that you are that person.
. . . .
Rep. Veasey: This is one of the thing [sic] that is [sic] we are not going to agree on but I want to make sure that we get the point for the record here because obviously with us being a Section 5 state people are going to be watching and we want to make sure that we do everything that we can to be sure that everyone can cast their suffrage. Help me understand someone – help me understand why this is okay because basically what you talked about earlier, one of the things you mentioned that we heard stories of voter fraud and voter impersonation. We heard stories but there was never any proof. Why should we pass such a stringent bill and stringent law based on rumor and innuendo? Basically rumor and innuendo that has circled around voting and African Americans since after – reconstruction. The same sort of silly resumers [sic] that are based on innuendo and things people hear in other communities without even going into an African-American community or Latino community and actually seeing what is going on. Just plain rumors.
Rep. Harless: You ready for an answer?
Rep. Veasey: Absolutely.
Rep. Harless: SB14 is similar to the case – the legislation that was passed in Indiana that was upheld by the U.S. Constitution. It is similar to the bill filed in Georgia that was approved by the Department of Justice.
Texas 82 Legislative Session, House Transcript (Mar. 23, 2011) (emphasis supplied), available athttp://www.texastribune.org/session/82R/transcripts/2011/3/23/house/.
So knowing that the Act would be subject to Section 5 review and that certain lawmakers had serious questions about whether fraud was a real issue, Representative Harless had to admit that it was not. Her stated justification for the law was that two other states had passed similar laws that were upheld. This was her sole answer as to why the State of Texas needed such a law.
In hindsight, that answer is not surprising. During the debate on SB14, the legislators received considerable credible data discrediting claims that the legislation was necessary to combat voter fraud. Specifically, the Texas House Research Organization analysis of SB14 provided to legislators noted that opponents made clear that:
little or no evidence of the voter fraud that the bill purports to address [exists]. No proof exists of organized, widespread voter fraud at the polls, and any recent individual cases of voter impersonation are anecdotal at best.
Fraser, Harless, et al., House Research Organization SB 14 Bill Analysis, S. 82, Reg. Sess., at 8-9 (Tex. 2011), available at http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/pdf/ ba82r/sb0014.pdf#navpanes=0.
This analysis cited a 2009 interim report by the Texas House Elections Committee finding no evidence of noncitizens abusing the electoral system. Id. Moreover, the Texas House Committee on Elections interim report to the 82nd legislature acknowledged that, based on testimony from the Texas Attorney General’s Office, “evidence of voter fraud is lacking.” Id. Legislators were also advised of a 2006 interim report by the Texas State Affairs Committee concluding that “almost all evidence of voter fraud involved mail-in ballots,” which would not be addressed by the requirements of SB14. Id. Opponents cited other evidence as well making clear that in-person impersonation is not a problem in the State of Texas. See generally id. at 8-11. These lawmakers were urged to “examine empirical data,” id.at 9, before taking this legislative action. Instead of examining such data, proponents in the Legislature ignored it entirely.
These lawmakers also chose to ignore the concerns raised about the way this strict law would affect voters of color:
Rep. Dawnna Dukes: Well, many of us have been trying to do that prior to 1964. To make sure that it was fair and secure but this law is changing a whole lot of things that my ancestor[s] went through. It’s changing it by making it more difficult for my ancestors and people who look like me to have the ability to go and vote. It’s making it more difficult for people who are disenfranchised to have the ability to go down and get some form of ID because they’ll be charged with an additional amount. . . . Don’t try to make it more difficult for my people to have the ability to vote. . . . .
Texas 82nd Legislative Session, House Transcript (Mar. 23, 2011), available at http://www.texastribune.org/session/82R/transcripts/2011/3/23/house/.
These concerns were voiced in the Senate as well. Citizens testified that the stringent photo ID requirement will have a disparate impact on voters of color and will prevent many minority Texans from being able to vote. See, e.g., Video of the Hearing Before the Committee of the Whole Senate, available athttp://www.senate.state.tx.us/avarchive/?yr=2011 &mo=01. Indeed, Senator Leticia Van de Putte “predicted that [SB14] will face trouble because it will hamper voting by minorities and Texans with disabilities because there are not enough alternatives for Texans who cannot provide a photo ID.” Mike Ward, Texas Senators Split on whether Voter ID Bill Constitutional, The Austin American-Statesman, Jan. 26, 11 available at http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/texas-senators-split -on-whether-voter-id-bill-1210139.html (quotations omitted).
This legislative history makes clear that avoiding fraud was not the real purpose of the Act and that the law makers were well aware of the concerns of disparate impact. A majority of the Legislature passed SB14 nonetheless, hoping, it seems, that they would be relieved of their burden to prove the law was not enacted for a non-discriminatory reason because of the Indiana and Georgia laws. The State simply cannot be relieved of this burden of proof, which it has clearly failed to meet.
* * *
Under the Arlington Heights test -- which focuses on the discriminatory effect of the law and considers the history of the State and the legislative history and record of the new law -- it is clear that SB14 was enacted for a discriminatory purpose.
III. TEXAS HAS NOT PROVED -- AND CANNOT PROVE -- THAT SB14 WILL NOT HAVE A DISCRIMINATORY EFFECT VOTERS OFCOLOR._________________________________________________________
Texas offers absolutely nothing to show that SB14 will not have a discriminatory effect on minority voting strength. Instead, it relies on its bald and self-serving statement that “[t]he Act will not affect members of any racial or linguistic minority differently from the way the general public is affected.” Submission Letter at 10. Available data demonstrates otherwise.
A. PROTECTED GROUPS ARE LESS LIKELY THAN WHITES TO POSSESS THE TYPES OF IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED BY SB14.___________________________________________________
Preclearance must be denied because the State has not even attempted to submit evidence as to key facts, such as the number of persons in Texas who possess the type of identification necessary to satisfy the Act, and whether voters of color are less likely than White voters to possess such identification. Without presenting such information, the State cannot satisfy its burden of demonstrating no discriminatory impact.
Indeed, available data demonstrates that, as a general matter, requirements for state-issued photo IDs have a more severe impact on voters of color than White voters. Several key studies examining this question in other states have established that voters of color are less likely to possess the identifications required by the Act.
Relying on three leading studies, Leland Beatty, a census and voting expert, assessed the level at which each racial group will be affected by the requirement for state-issued IDs. See Declaration of Leland Beatty (“Beatty Decl.”) at ¶ 15 (attached as Exhibit B). Those levels are revealing -- and disturbing:
PERCENTAGE OF REGISTERED VOTERS WITHOUT STATE IDS
Sign up for our emails to stay updated on what we're doing and how you can help.