AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The new voter identification law in Texas discriminates against members of minority groups, organizations challenging it say.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the Asian American Justice Center, the Advancement Project, the Southwest Workers Union, DEMOS, a public policy think tank headquartered in New York, and other groups asked the U.S. Justice Department Wednesday to deny the law "pre-clearance," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. In A 31-page letter to the Civil Rights Division, the coalition argued voter fraud is not a major problem and blacks and Hispanics are less likely to have the government photo ID required by the law.
"This law is a part of the largest legislative effort to turn back the clock on voting rights in our nation in over a century," said Judith Browne Dianis of the Advancement Project. "If this bill is allowed to stand, it will undermine the basic fabric of our nation's democracy."
The law, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, bars anyone without a valid state or federal photo ID from voting. Under the current law, registered voters can use utility bills or similar documents to prove their residency.
Gov. Rick Perry sent the law to the Legislature as an "emergency."
"By applying to voting the same standard that is commonly applied in cashing a check or applying for a library card, voter ID can ensure an accurate reflection of the will of the voters," Allison Castle, a Perry spokeswoman, said Wednesday. "Without confidence in our elections process, the rights of all voters are cast in doubt."