By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2013, 6:05am PT  

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Texas under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint was filed in hopes of blocking the state's polling place Photo ID restriction law, newly re-enacted by TX Attorney General Greg Abbott just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the very heart of the VRA (the Section 4 formula used to determine jurisdictions covered by its Section 5 preclearance requirements for new voting laws) last June.

How did the TX AG respond to the DoJ suit?

Here is the very first line of Abbott's embarrassing website response to it posted yesterday...

AUSTIN --- “Just days after the U.S. Department of Justice arrested a Texas woman for illegally voting five times in the same election, the Obama administration is suing to stop Texas’ commonsense voter ID law. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws do not suppress legal votes, but do help prevent illegal votes. Voter IDs have nothing to do with race and they are free to anyone who needs one.

Ya know what else "Voter IDs have nothing to do with"? The absentee ballot fraud committed by the woman cited by Greg Abbott above in the very first line of his response to the DoJ!

Here (courtesy of Ryan Reilly) is the very first page of the indictment against the woman cited by Abbott as a reason why the state needs their polling place Photo ID restriction law. [Red circle added for TX AGs who may have trouble reading their own legal filings]...

Of course, Abbott is similarly misleading --- okay, lying --- about "Voter IDs hav[ing] nothing to do with race" as well. He knows that very well, of course, since, last year, both the DoJ and a federal court each determined --- based on data supplied by the state of TX itself --- that, by way of just one example, registered Hispanic voters were anywhere from 46.5% to 120% more likely than registered white voters to lack the type of state-issued Photo ID which would now be required to vote under the TX GOP's new, racially discriminatory law.

In other words, as the DoJ noted after analyzing the state's own data and then blocking the law from taking effect last year due to its discriminatory nature (before the law was re-enacted following the horrific SCOTUS decision earlier this summer): "Hispanic registered voters are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic registered voters to lack such identification."

Moreover, as to Abbott's claim that the newly required state-issued Photo IDs "are free to anyone who needs one," as Ari Berman notes at The Nation:

[V]oters must first pay for underlying documents to confirm their identity, the cheapest option being a birth certificate for $22 (otherwise known as a “poll tax”); Texas has DMV offices in only eighty-one of 254 counties in the state, with some voters needing to travel up to 250 miles to obtain a new voter ID. Counties with a significant Hispanic population are less likely to have a DMV office, while Hispanic residents in such counties are twice as likely as whites to not have the new voter ID (Hispanics in Texas are also twice as likely as whites to not have a car).

Remember, those needing to drive "up to 250 miles" to get their "free" ID also need to do so despite not owning a drivers license! Other than that, the cost of the time off work, the cost of gas, and the cost of documents needed to receive one, those Photo IDs "are free to anyone who needs one," as Abbott lied.

Of course, Abbott has to lie about this stuff because, in fact, polling place impersonation voter fraud (the only type of fraud that can possibly be deterred by such laws) is, unlike absentee ballot fraud, almost non-existent. A report issued last year by a non-partisan news consortium which examined every known instance of election fraud from all 50 states between 2000 and 2010 found just ten (10!) cases of polling place impersonation fraud across the entire nation which might have been deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions --- out of hundreds of millions of votes cast during the same period.

Other than that, of course, "Voter IDs having nothing do with race", they must be shown at the polling place in Texas in order to magically somehow prevent the absentee ballot fraud Abbott cites, Greg Abbott is an idiot, and the Texas Republican legislators who voted for this bill, and the Republican Governor Rick Perry who signed it, all hate American democracy and will do anything they can to prevent it from happening.

This all from a state and an AG who recently responded to a lawsuit against their Congressional redistricting map --- also re-enacted after the Supremes gutted the VRA, and also found to be purposefully discriminatory last year --- by literally admitting they did intend to discriminate in drawing it up, but not against minorities, just against Democrats.

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For more on similar recent anti-democracy idiocy, please see our detailed coverage yesterday on the state and federal lawsuits now filed against North Carolina in hopes of blocking their similarly discriminatory attempts to stop racial minorities from casting their votes in that state. For those unclear on just how bad the Rightwing SCOTUS majority's horrific decision was last June when they gutted the heart of the preclearance requirement in the Voting Rights Act --- finding, essentially, and incorrectly, that it was no longer necessary --- hopefully you're starting to get the picture by now...

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UPDATE 9/4/2013: It should also be noted that Abbott also lied in his claim that "The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws do not suppress legal votes, but do help prevent illegal votes". More details on that lie now here...

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