Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
The Obama administration on Monday blocked a new Texas voter ID law on the grounds that it could be disproportionately render Hispanic voters in the state ineligible to vote at the polls.
The law would have required voters to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, but according to one set of figures provided to the U.S. Justice Department by the state, a disproportionate number—about 11 percent—of Hispanic voters living in Texas don't have one. The DOJ found that the state hadn't done enough to mitigate this concern and, using its power under the Voting Rights Act, blocked the law from going into effect, according to a letter released Monday.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act forces U.S. states with a history of rights violations at the polls to seek federal permission before changing their election rules or districts. Texas sparred with the federal government earlier this year over its legislative redistricting maps. The DOJ has also blocked a similar voter ID law in South Carolina, according to Bloomberg. Both states have filed suit in court seeking permission to enforce their laws.
Voter ID laws are a partisan issue: Republicans generally support the measures as a way to preserve voter integrity; most Democrats believe they disenfranchise low-income and minority voters. For more on the Voting Rights Act, Slate's Will Ormeus explains why the Obama administration is letting many of the act's civil rights protections quietly wither away.