Federal Court Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law
In case you hadn’t heard, the controversial Texas Voter ID Law, which would require voters to present a valid state or federal ID to vote, was struck down by a federal court yesterday. Southwest Key is a huge proponent of civic engagement and voter registration and this is great news for our constituency because the Voter ID Law was specifically designed to keep poor people and minorities from voting. Statistics show that those people most likely not to have a valid ID are low-income and of-color. Which is why the three judges on the federal court in Washington D.C. said the law is in violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The decision was the second blow this week to Texas’ right wing. On Tuesday, another three-judge panel in the same court found that the Texas Legislature had intentionally discriminated against minority voters in drawing up electoral district maps, citing the same section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. No word yet on how or when those districts will be re-drawn, but it’s suspected that Texas will continue on during this November’s elections by using the substitute districts drawn by a federal court in San Antonio.
Gov. Rick Perry and Texas attorney general Greg Abbott vowed to appeal both decisions to the United States Supreme Court. This battle is likely far from over.
Southwest Key launched the East Austin Voter Mobilization Initiative, a coalition of East Austin Latino, African American, and immigrant community groups, in 2010 to combat this kind of systemic disenfranchisement of poor minorities. (Our own Valerie Joiner was recently profiled in the Austin American-Statesman for her work registering East Austinites to vote.) EAVMI works to mobilize minority voters and other eligible citizens in East Austin, an often underrepresented neighborhood. EAVMI invites you to a Town Hall on September 11 to discuss the upcoming Austin city elections, particularly the issues of Single Member Districts, Geographical Representation and the 10-1 vs. 8-2-1 plans.