SAN ANTONIO, TX – MALDEF is demanding that election officials in Dewitt and Harris Counties, Texas stop providing false information about voter identification rules at polling places.
In letters sent Tuesday, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) noted that Dewitt County is using a large sign outside its early polling places that inaccurately states “photo ID required.” The sign is in direct violation of recently modified state rules that allow voters to cast a ballot without a photo ID if they can provide alternative identification documents and sign a declaration. In Harris County, poll workers are incorrectly announcing to voters that a photo ID is required to vote, according to a second letter.
“The apparently endemic Texas problems in complying with a clear directive not to require photo identification to vote demonstrates clearly that Texas is still not ready for prime time when it comes to the voting process,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “There is no clearer demonstration of the harm done when the Supreme Court relieved Texas from its pre-clearance obligation under the federal Voting Rights Act.”
MALDEF’s letters come just days after attorneys successfully sued Bexar County officials for similar problems, including using outdated signs and inaccurate information at polling places, as well as on its website and election hotline. On Friday, a state court judge issued a temporary restraining order requiring Bexar County election officials to fix the problems.
“Just last week, the Texas Secretary of State sent an email to county election officials reminding them to make clear to voters that there are alternatives to showing photo ID for voters who lack photo ID,” stated Nina Perales, MALDEF vice president of litigation and lead counsel in the Bexar County case. “There is simply no excuse for poll workers who post or announce inaccurate information.”
At issue is the counties’ implementation of Texas’ controversial 2011 photo voter identification law. This summer a federal court of appeals ruled that the law’s restriction of acceptable identification to one of seven government-issued photo IDs discriminated against minority voters in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. Among other things, the law permitted voters to present a concealed handgun license but not a college ID.
Texas was forced by court order to expand its list of acceptable IDs and create new signs for polling places to inform voters of the new identification requirements. Some Texas counties, however, continue to post the strict and invalid requirements in their polling places, according to MALDEF and recent news reports.
Harris County, which includes the City of Houston, is the third largest county in the United States by population. More than 40 percent of its residents are Latino, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
Read the letter to Harris County Officials HERE.
Read the leter to Dewitt County Officials HERE.