The state of Texas is dragging its feet in the legal challenge to its voter ID law and the delays mean the state may not be able to implement its law for the 2012 election.
Currently the challenge rests before a panel of three federal judges who are to decide whether the law can go into effect despite the objections of the Justice Department that the law violates portions of the Voting Rights Act, and so far, the panel has not been impressed by the state of Texas.
The court said the state had “repeatedly ignored or violated directives and orders” of the court designed to expedite the discovery phase of the dispute and that Texas had failed to “produce in a timely manner key documents” challengers need in order to prepare their case. “Most troubling is Texas’ conduct with respect to producing its key state databases, which are central to Defendants’ claim that S.B. 14 has a disparate and retrogressive impact on racial and/or language minority groups,” the panel wrote in an order issued Tuesday.
At the heart of the dispute are requests by the Department of Justice related to discussions and meetings Republican legislators had about passing the voter ID bill. Texas has characterized those requests as a “fishing expedition” by “DOJ partisans who oppose the Voter ID law.”
But the Department of Justice has challenged the law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act on the basis that it has a disparate impact on the minority populations of the state. An analysis of the state’s data found that Hispanic registered voters were far more likely than an average voter to lack a form of photo ID that would be acceptable under the new law.
A trial on the issue of the impact of the voter ID law is set to start on July 9th, but the conduct of Texas officials puts that date in question unless Texas turns over all relevant databases to the DOJ by today.
Photo from JasonLangheine via flickr.