Of Course: Obama/Holder DOJ Objects to Texas Voter ID Law

Posted: Mar 13, 2012 9:32 AM

As Katie alluded to last night, every day is Groundhog Day with this administration:

The Obama administration has once more gone too far in its "overreach," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Monday, after the Justice Department objected to the state's new voter photo ID law, saying Texas failed to demonstrate that the law is not discriminatory by design against Hispanic voters. "Texas has a responsibility to ensure elections are fair, beyond reproach and accurately reflect the will of voters. The DOJ has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requires nothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive a library card or board an airplane. Their denial is yet another example of the Obama administration's continuing and pervasive federal overreach," Perry said.

On Monday, the Justice Dpartment's head of the civil rights division, Tom Perez, sent a a six-page letter to Texas' director of elections saying that Texas has not "sustained its burden" under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to show that the new law will not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters. About 11 percent of Hispanic voters reportedly lack state-issued identification.  Perez wrote that while the state says the new photo ID requirement is to "ensure electoral integrity and deter ineligible voters from voting" the state "did not include evidence of significant in-person voter impersonation not already addressed by the state's existing laws.

Texas' Secretary of State says the basis for the DOJ's claim of discrimination is flawed and relies on the pairing of disparate statistical sets:

The two data sets, compiled in September 2011 and January 2012 were not an apples-to-apples comparison, said Texas' secretary of state, who noted the department was warned that the two data sets it used to lodge its objection were inconsistent. "The data they demanded came from matching two separate data sets never designed to be matched, and their agency was warned that matches from these data sets would be misleading," Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade said in a statement.  Andrade said that as a result of the objection, which she called "extremely disappointing," existing law will apply in the May 29 primary election.

This is nothing new; the Obama administration has been flexing its muscles to thwart state-level laws to control illegal immigration and protect electoral integrity since day one.  I addressed the Holder Justice Department's perverse priorities in a 2009 column (the North Carolina party label paternalistic intrusion remains especially vexing), and that train has kept right on chugging.  What's extra insulting is the DOJ's "who, us?" routine, insisting that their actions are entirely apolitical, and not at all coordinated with the DNC's recent push to eliminate or defang state voter ID laws sprouting up across the nation. 
These laws are needed.  These laws are immensely popular.  These laws do not suppress minority voter turnout.  And these laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court.  They should not offend anyone interested in fair and accurate elections.  May I ask a question?  If, in fact, Latino citizens are much less likely to have the proper state-issued identification that would be required to vote, what is stopping them from rectifying that situation?  If they are eligible voters -- ie, US citizens -- they have every right to march in to any designated state office and legally obtain a valid ID.  If proving you truly are who you claim to be is an "undue burden" to ballot access in this country, we're in very deep trouble.  The integrity and security of the ballot is the bedrock on which our democratic system relies; it's telling that Team Obama is doing everything it can to undermine basic, common-sense efforts to safeguard the system.
One last note: This isn't just a north vs. south issue.  Under Gov. Scott Walker's leadership, Wisconsin has passed a voter identification law.  It was recently struck down by a state judge -- but not just any state judge:

Nearly four months before he signed off on the poorly edited order granting a temporary injunction against Wisconsin’s new voter identification law, Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan scribbled his name on another important legal document: A petition urging the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Walker signed the voter ID legislation last year and is a defendant in the current case. “The very fact that Dane County Judge David Flanagan signed a petition to recall Governor Walker calls (Tuesday’s) court proceedings regarding Wisconsin’s voter ID law into question,” said Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks in a statement.

Can you say, "conflict of interest"?  Patterico breaks down the obvious impropriety and points out that this judge may also be an incompetent boob.  ("William Scalia?")  Parting quotation, via Twitter:

RT @somethingfishie: Funny how Holder can easily trust drug cartels with guns, but not Texas with Voter ID laws.

Yes.  Funny, that.

UPDATE - The Texas Attorney General has announced he's suing the Justice Department over this.  Boom:

“The Justice Department’s decision to deny preclearance to Texas’ Voter ID law is no surprise given the Obama Administration’s denial of a similar law in South Carolina. In anticipation of this decision, the Texas Attorney General’s office already filed legal action in January seeking judicial preclearance with the court system. The U.S. Supreme Court has already held that Voter ID requirements are constitutional and nondiscriminatory, and several other states–including Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Wisconsin–are allowed to require photo identification to vote. Texas should not be treated differently and must have the same authority as other states to protect the integrity of our elections.”

Don't mess with Texas.