YNN News | June 25, 2013
The Supreme Court says a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced until Congress comes up with a new way of determining which states and localities require close federal monitoring of elections.
The justices said in 5-4 ruling Tuesday that the law Congress most recently renewed in 2006 relies on 40-year-old data that doesn’t reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society.
The court did not strike down the advance approval requirement of the law that has been used, mainly in the South, to open up polling places to minority voters in the nearly half century since it was first enacted in 1965.
But they said lawmakers must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must seek Washington’s approval for election changes.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Washington D.C., has automatic effect here in Texas.
“The Texas voter ID law would go into effect immediately and the redistricting maps just passed in this session would go into affect immediately,” said Sherri Greenberg, Director of Politics & Governance at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott agreed. On his website just hours after the high court ruling he wrote, “Today’s ruling ensures that Texas is no longer one of just a few states that must seek approval from the federal government before its election laws can take effect.”
Texas is one of more than 30 states with voter ID laws. Two years ago the Lone Star State passed the controversial law only to have it stricken down by a federal court.
Tuesday’s ruling overrides that decision.
“Voters now have to be aware and attain the identification they need in order to go vote and not be turned away,” Greenberg said.
In 2011, Democratic State Rep. Chris Turner voted against the Texas voter ID bill. He saw the ruling as a conservative court carrying out the political will of the GOP.
“I think it is a sad day for America,” Rep. Chris Turner said. “Texas Republican leaders have engaged in intentional discrimination with regard to redistricting.”
Also on Tuesday, The Texas Department of Safety announced it will issue “Election Identification Certificates” to those who do not have a photo ID.
The cards can be used to cast a ballot on all election days.