The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Monday that it objects to a law in Texas which requires voters to present a state-issued photo identification before they may cast a ballot.
The department said that Texas failed to show how the voter ID law would not disenfranchise thousands of Latino voters, who are much more likely than other groups to not possess a state issued photo ID.
The DOJ blocked a similar law in South Carolina last year, and a total of eight states passed ID requirements in 2011. Wisconsin’s voter ID law, as well, was stalled by a county judge just last week.
Voter ID laws have been shopped in numerous states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a little known conservative lobbying group funded by wealthy interests, which purports to write bills for lawmakers.
Republicans favor ID laws because they fear an orchestrated campaign of voter fraud could tip elections against them. There is, however, no evidence of widespread voter fraud occurring anywhere in the U.S.
Instead, ID laws have been empirically demonstrated to drive down the number of votes (PDF) cast for Democrats by minorities, students, the poor and the elderly, who are less likely to carry a photo ID.
Texas is covered by the Voting Rights Act, which was passed in 1965 to prevent historically discriminatory states from infringing upon the rights of minority populations. Because of that, any changes to its election laws must be cleared by the DOJ.
Texas and South Carolina have both sued the DOJ in federal court, in hopes that their new laws may be enforced during the 2012 presidential elections.