Lawsuit Against Texas Voter ID Claims State Denies Equal Voting Rights

A group of Hispanic and African-American voters from South Texas have joined the litigation fray over Texas voter ID law with a new lawsuit filed in Corpus Christi.

Like the existing suits, the new suit challenges Texas’ voter ID law under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, contending that the law has discriminatory effect and was adopted by the Texas Legislature with the intent of discriminating against African-Americans and Hispanic voters.

The suit also alleges that the law violates the 14th and 15th amendments of the Constitution because it “was adopted in 2011, and has been maintained since that time, for the purpose of denying Hispanics and African-Americans equal access to the political process.”

However, the suit also makes a non-race based claim under 14th and 15th amendments based on the “fundamental right to vote,” arguing that the law places a “substantial burden” on the right to vote that is “neither justified by, nor necessary to promote, interests put forward by the State.”

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In addition, the suit makes two claims under the Texas Constitution, arguing that the law violates the guarantee of “a free and equal vote in Texas elections” in Article I, sec. 3 as well as the guarantee of “equality under the law regardless of race, sex, color, creed, or national origin” in Article 1, sec. 3a.

The suit specifically challenges implementation and enforcement of the law’s “substantially similar” name matching requirement, arguing that “discretion lies exclusively with individual election judges and election clerks” and that “[r]egardless of instructions and suggestions from the Secretary of State, standards and interpretations will vary significantly across the 254 counties of Texas and will adversely impact women and Hispanics more than Anglo non-Hispanic men.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. Hidalgo County-based community civic group La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) also is a plaintiff in the suit.

This article was oringally published on November 12, 2013 by TexasRedistricting.org

Photo credit: University of Texas