Lawsuit Against TX Voter ID Gains Momentum Months Before It Impacts Election

Dallas County DA Craig Watkins held a Twitter Town Hall on his participation in the voter ID lawsuit against the state of Texas. The new law will be in effect for the November Constitutional election and is expected to place an unnecessary burden on communities already less likely to make it to the polls, namely African Americans and Hispanics.

The additional plaintiffs in the suit filed by Eric Holder and the Obama Justice Department include the Texas League of Young Voters, the Mexican American League Legislative Caucus and the NAACP. The suit contends that there is both discriminatory intent and effect — which are violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act — and that the right to vote is abridged based on race, contrary to the 14th and 15th Amendments. Other arguments against the Texas voter ID law equate the additional barrier to a poll tax in violation of the 24th Amendment, as well as a violation of our 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law and an undue burden on political expression (1st Amendment).

The focus for the Justice Department and the other parties to the suit is to permanently block the implementation of the law, have Texas "bailed in" to preclearance coverage under section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, and allow for the appointment of federal election observers.

The evidence of discrimination that the suit brings forth mirror the reasons the GOP should be very concerned about their ability to broaden their base for future elections. The suit points to anti-immigrant rhetoric in legislative debates and public statements, and the fact that Hispanics and Blacks disproportionately lack IDs. Almost 11 percent of registered Hispanic voters do not have the necessary identification to vote under the new law and yet in the last decade there have been only 26 estimated cases of voter fraud.

Democrats challenging the law seem confident that they will get a fair hearing from U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who was appointed by Obama in 2011. But if the law does remains in place for the Constitutional election here is what you will need:

In order to vote in Texas, you will need to bring ONE (1) of the following documents to your polling place:
• TX Driver's License issued by DPS
• TX Personal ID card issued by DPS
• TX concealed handgun license issued by DPS
• U.S. military ID card showing your photo
• U.S. Certificate of Citizenship or US Certificate of Naturalization showing your photo
• U.S. passport book or card
• Election ID Certificate (EIC) issued by DPS

Important to note:
• All documents except the citizenship certificate must be no more than 60 days expired when presented at the polls.
• People with disabilities can apply for an exemption to this requirement.
• Your name on your ID must exactly match your name on the registered voters list. If it does not, but is "substantially similar," you will be allowed to vote after initialing a column on the sign-in sheet at the polls. If it is not "substantially similar," you will be allowed to vote provisionally.

How To Get an ID:
Go to a Department of Public Safety office and tell them "I want a FREE Election ID Certificate."
You must bring with you:
• Your Birth Certificate• OR another document verifying citizenship
• AND any Two (2) of the following: Social Security card, voter registration card, school records, Medicare or Medicaid card, ID card issued by a government agency, unexpired insurance policy, and expired Texas ID

Below are some highlighted tweets from Wednesday's Town Hall:

Over last 10 yrs, only an est 26 cases of voter fraud, that dealt with mail-in ballots, not issues of identification. Thats 2 cases per year

— Craig Watkins
(@CraigMWatkins) October 2, 2013

TX was THE last state to notify slaves of the Emancipation Proclamation & the 1st to implement voter suppression laws. And we question race?

— Craig Watkins
(@CraigMWatkins) October 2, 2013

as implemented would be a poll tax. W/out a DL, you need docs like birth cert or passport costing between $22 and $100 on average

— Craig Watkins (@CraigMWatkins) October 2, 2013

Republicans have once again embarrassed TX. The Federal government has to intervene to protect the constitutional rights of Texans.

— Craig Watkins
(@CraigMWatkins) October 2, 2013

@morgan_kelley22 Based on the law in its current state, we foresee a victory. This is a battle worth fighting for.

— Craig Watkins (@CraigMWatkins)
October 2, 2013

Thanks for the questions. We will continue to work with Pres Obama and Eric Holder to ensure Texans keep their const right to vote.

— Craig Watkins (@CraigMWatkins) October 2, 2013


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