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DOJ asks Texas for more proof its new voter ID law isn’t discriminatory

One week after a coalition of minority and voting rights groups asked the U.S. Department of Justice to block Texas’ new voter ID law, federal officials asked the state to provide more details supporting its claim that the law wouldn’t create discriminatory barriers to voting.

As the TPMuckraker blog reported:

In a Friday letter officials wrote that they need to know more about how the state would alert voters to the changes to the law.

Federal officials also want a detailed description of when and where the state will make free identification certificates available, as well as specifics on how they will educate the public about when such certificates will be available.

Texas officials said that 605,576 residents do not have a Texas drivers license or photo ID card. DOJ wants to know how many of those residents without IDs have Spanish surnames.

In a June memo to election administrators around the state, the Texas Secretary of State’s office detailed the outreach efforts required at the local level, which include posting notice of the photo ID requirement online, and handing out the notice to voters in the November 2011 election.

A report by the Advancement Project, one of the groups that urged the DOJ to block Texas’ law, found that Texas’ law was certain to create barriers to voting, in part because it counted on spending so little — around $2 million — on free identification cards and voter outreach before the 2012 elections.

As the Texas Independent has reported, those efforts cost Indiana — a state one-fourth the size of Texas — more than $12 million.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the Texas House sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Patricia Harless, (R-Spring) wasn’t surprised:

“I think the questions they are asking are reasonable,” Harless said.

Harless added that the Texas secretary of state’s office should be able to respond relatively quickly.

Texas Voter ID Letter – Sept. 23, 2011

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