AUSTIN, Texas, March 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department blocked a Texas law requiring voters to show a photo identification, saying the law disproportionately harmed Hispanic residents.
The Justice Department action was the second time in three months the Obama administration blocked a state voter ID law, saying it discriminated against minority groups, The Washington Post reported Monday.
In December, the Justice Department blocked South Carolina's voter ID law, saying it discriminated African-American voters.
The Texas requirement was signed into law last year by Gov. Rick Perry.
"Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver's license or a personal identification card," Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said in a letter to Keith Ingram, the director of elections for the Texas secretary of state.
The Justice Department blocked the South Carolina and Texas voter ID laws under a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The provision requires 16 states or parts of states having a history of discrimination to receive federal approval of any voting law changes.
Eight states passed voter ID laws last year. Critics said the statutes were a response in search of a problem and could hurt turnout among minorities and others who helped elect President Obama in 2008. Conservative supporters and Republican attorneys general say laws are necessary to combat voter fraud.
South Carolina and Texas both filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Washington, asking that they be allowed to enforce their new voting laws.