Target: Rep. Joe Straus, Texas Speaker of the House
Goal: Condemn the revival of discriminatory attacks on minority voting rights in Texas
The Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 ruling on the Voting Rights Act (VRA) eliminated several provisions of the landmark 1965 law. ThinkProgress notes that the Court “reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant” continuing restrictions and federal oversight. As many activists feared, however, the ruling prompted renewed attacks on voting rights and equality within mere hours. Rather than demonstrating progress on racial justice and nondiscrimination, the Court’s ruling empowered legislators who were previously impeded by VRA limitations.
Texas presents an especially troublesome example of renewed efforts to limit the rights of minority Americans. The state’s infamous voter ID law and a racially-motivated redistricting map, both blocked last year by the Justice Department, “may go into effect immediately.”
The redistricting plans for Texas espoused by state Republican leaders offers a textbook example of gerrymandering to suppress minorities in both state and federal elections. The changes disproportionately target “majority-minority” districts, where blacks and/or Latinos hold a sufficient population advantage to elect leaders from within. As ThinkProgress reported, this redistricting effectively cuts “off [black] representatives’ offices from their strongest fundraising bases… [while] white Congress members’ districts were either preserved” or expanded to include exceptional sources of fundraising such as country clubs.
The photo ID voting law also threatens access to the polls for millions of Texans. This “strict photo ID requirement… would require Texans to show one of a very narrow list of acceptable photo IDs. Expired gun licenses from other states are considered valid, but Social Security cards and student IDs are not.” The voter ID law targets a wide range of groups that often have either limited access to “acceptable” forms of identification, or minimal capacity to procure them. Indeed, for the many “voters do not have an ID — as many minorities, seniors, and poor people do not — they must travel at their own expense, produce their birth certificate, and in many cases pay a fee to get an ID.”
Numerous additional states promise to follow the lead of Texas, including Alabama, Arizona, and North Carolina, where pervasive anti-minority legislation routinely generates national media coverage. Sign the petition below to unequivocally condemn this renewed assault on the rights of Americans and demand Texas stop its efforts to suppress the democratic process.
Dear Speaker Straus,
Within mere hours of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on provisions in the Voting Rights Act, Texas lawmakers began a renewed push to implement voter ID requirements and a widely chastised redistricting plan. Rather than demonstrating progress on racial justice and nondiscrimination, the Court’s ruling has evidently revived oppressive proposals that are unprecedented in contemporary politics.
The proposed photo ID voting requirements uniformly target minorities, seniors, and the poor — all groups with historically limited access to the minuscule range of documents permitted under the new law. In effect, this law threatens to disenfranchise millions of Texans of their fundamental rights as Americans. Moreover, nonpartisan and academic research consistently notes that such laws address imaginary problems: instances of in-person voter fraud are rarer than deaths by lightning strikes or shark attacks. Pouring taxpayer funds into expensive monitoring of voter IDs wastes money while obstructing fundamental democratic processes in America without justifiable cause.
We the undersigned condemn these attacks on marginalized Americans and demand that you halt ongoing efforts to limit their rights as citizens. Failure to uphold the rights of your fellow Texans will demonstrate not only abhorrent political cowardice and callousness, it will cement our doubts of your supposed sworn fidelity to the Constitution.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Dbenbenn via Wikimedia