WASHINGTON – The Justice Department sued Texas on Thursday over the state’s new electoral law, arguing that the Republican-led measure would disenfranchise non-English speaking Texans, people with disabilities, people with disabilities, people with disabilities and people with disabilities. older voters and those living outside the United States.
The ministry argues that the law violates the Voting Rights Act by limiting the assistance that election officials can provide to voters. He also argues that the law flies in the face of the Civil Rights Act by requiring that mail-in ballots be rejected if they do not include a voter’s current driver’s license number, a number from a voter. voter ID or part of a social security number.
The Texas Voting Act, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in September, includes measures prohibiting election officials from sending unsolicited mail-in ballot requests to voters and promoting the use of mail-in voting , as well as to further limit the use of drop boxes. The law also significantly extends the authority of pro-election observers.
The Justice Department lawsuit comes as President Biden’s administration and Congressional Democrats face sustained pressure to counter one of the biggest contractions in access to the vote in generations, Republicans 19 States that have adopted at least 33 laws that place new barriers in the voting process. In June, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced that the Justice Department would prioritize the issue and double its staff.
Kristen Clarke, head of the department’s civil rights division, said Texas law’s restrictions on how election officials can help voters and its postal voting requirements were “illegal and untenable.”
Mr. Abbott stood up for the law, write on twitter: “Bring it on. Texas’ electoral integrity law is legal. He added that in the state it was” easier to vote but harder to cheat. ”
Also on Thursday, the Justice Department filed an expression of interest in a federal lawsuit against Texas’ voting law that has been brought by Latin American organizations. (An expression of interest indicates that the Department of Justice supports a plaintiff’s legal arguments in court, even if he or she is not a party.)
The department’s lawsuit against Texas differs in scope from the one it filed in June against Georgia accusing the state of passing a voting law that intentionally discriminated against black voters. Taken together, the two lawsuits and the Expression of Interest indicate that the ministry intends to use the legal tools at its disposal to oppose Republican voting restrictions.
“Our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to vote and to have that ballot count,” Garland said in a statement.
Yet despite pressure from Republican-controlled states to limit access to the vote, Democrats in Congress were unable to impose any federal voting rights legislation, leaving the Justice Department as one of the few. ways in which the Biden administration can fight restrictive voting laws. .
Democrats, including Mr Biden, have emphasized for much of the year that protecting voting rights is akin to the civic rights issue of that time, but for months the primary legislative goal of the White House has been to enact its infrastructure and social policy bills, which remain the subject of intra-party wrangling.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit against Texas focuses on measures in the new law that limit the types of help election officials can offer voters, including translation and other assistance. The law creates new civil and criminal penalties for election officials who break the rules.
“These vulnerable voters already face obstacles at the ballot box, and SB 1 will exacerbate the challenges they face in exercising their fundamental right to vote,” the department wrote in its lawsuit, referring to the bill on the Texas vote.
Top Democrats applauded the federal government’s lawsuit and pleaded with Congress to pass voting legislation.
âWe’ve seen this movie before in Texas – restricting the right to vote is illegal and doesn’t stand up to the courts,â said Tom Perez, who headed the Department of Justice’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama and who is now running for governor of Maryland. âTexas law is a classic example of why Congress must re-authorize voting rights law. “
Trey Martinez Fischer, a representative for the state of Texas who led Democrats to flee the state in July in an attempt to delay the Republican vote bill and pressure the Senate to pass a federal voting rights bill, praised the Justice Department for seeking to block the law. .
“It was about time,” Martinez Fischer said. Calling Texas “the nationwide voter suppression poster,” he said until the Senate passes the federal voting bill, “it is important that the Justice Department use all the tools it has in states like Texas “.
Texas Democratic lawmakers spent nearly six weeks in Washington trying to persuade Senate Democrats to circumvent the House rule requiring 60 votes to enact most laws so the party can enact the federal government bill. right to vote. The measure would expand access to ballots, put in place tighter controls on political money and create a state for the District of Columbia.
Senate Republicans have consistently opposed the Democrats’ voting rights proposals, though Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski broke with her GOP colleagues on Wednesday by voting to advance a separate voting bill. He received 51 votes, nine less than what was needed under Senate rules to move forward.