Texas is now in the sights of Attorney General Eric Holder, who wants that state subjected to federal court approval of a newly enacted voter ID law and redistricting maps — even though the U.S. Supreme Court effectively killed federal pre-clearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
But Holder is going after Texas under Section 3, undisturbed by the court ruling. Section 3 allows courts to take jurisdiction and decide if a state has passed discriminatory voting laws and is thus subject to being brought under judicial oversight.
North Carolina may be another target since the state legislature last week passed a tough new law covering voting rights. Alabama, which gave rise to the Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act, also may face a Holder attack on that state’s new photo ID law.
Georgia’s voter ID law, among the toughest in the country, has been partly defanged by a Supreme Court ruling last month that struck down a proof of citizenship requirement in an Arizona case. But the ruling applies only to people registering for federal elections, a small percentage of Georgia voters. Look for the 2014 General Assembly to come up with a fix for the law.
Georgia is among a dozen states with strict photo voter ID laws, and more than a dozen other states are working on similar legislation. Almost 20 states don’t require photo ID, but that number is shrinking.
As of now, only Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas and Indiana have “strict photo” ID requirements, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Twenty states have no voter ID law. They include two of the largest states, New York and California. Another big state, Pennsylvania, is in the throes of a legal challenge to its new voter ID law.
The strict voter ID laws are pushed by Republicans who talk about integrity of the voting process and the danger of fraud, while Democrats want to let everybody vote basically without any ID other than a name, address and signature.
What’s worse than the voter ID law in Georgia is the driver’s license law. A new applicant — or now even a long-married person simply seeking a license renewal — must show a birth certificate plus a marriage certificate if the name on the birth certificate has changed because of marriage, plus a Social Security number, plus at least two proofs of residence, such as a bank statement and a utility bill. It’s basically ridiculous, forcing many long-married, veteran Georgia drivers trying to renew their licenses to go to the trouble and expense of obtaining a copy of their birth and marriage certificates — even though all the information on their expiring license hasn’t changed in 20 years.
All these requirements are supposed to keep illegal immigrants from getting driver’s licenses. But this goes far beyond a reasonable identification process. If it’s not overkill, then please tell me what is?