Justice Department objects to Texas voter ID law

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on March 12, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 12 at 7:48 PM

DALLAS - The battle over what identification a voter has to show to cast a ballot grew hotter Monday, and Texas is at the center of the fight.

The state wants to enforce a new Texas law that requires voters show photo ID at the polls. Monday, the Justice Department civil rights division filed an objection.

The civil rights division said the new ID law would weigh heavily against Hispanic voters, because a disproportionately large portion of Hispanics don't have drivers licenses.
 
Twenty-one percent of Texas voters are Hispanic. According to the state, more of them did not have the kind of photo ID needed to vote than the population as a whole.

Under the voting rights act, states like Texas, which has a history of suppressing minority voting, must get pre-clearance before they make changes in voting law.
  
Dallas community activist and attorney Adelfa Callejo opposes the new Texas ID law, and welcomes the Justice Department's objection to it.

"Attacking the Voting Rights Act is really sacrilegious in my opinion," she said. "That is the fundamental right we have as American citizens, and no one should be deprived of that right."

Former Dallas County Republican chairman Jonathan Neerman, however, said requiring photo ID to vote in a society which requires ID to do everything else, is a rational decision. He said the Justice Department's objection is based on politics.

"This is this the most partisan attorney general we've seen in 40 years," he said. "And we're in the middle of an election season. And he's already made clear that he's gonna put Texas under the microscope."

The Justice Department's objection was filed before a three-judge panel. Those judges will rule on whether Texas can enforce its new law. A hearing in that case is scheduled for later this week.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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