Letter to DOJ admits data regarding voter ID is “inaccurate and unreliable” and “highly misleading”
(Austin, Texas)// Yesterday, the state of Texas submitted additional information to the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Senate Bill 14, the so-called “voter ID” bill. Due to Texas’ history of discriminatory voting practices, Texas is subject to Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, meaning that any change to a voting practice in the state must first be approved – or “precleared” – by the Department of Justice prior to it going into effect.
The information submitted yesterday was in response to the Department of Justice’s repeated attempts to determine the racial background of Texans without photo IDs. In other words, who will be negatively impacted by the new voter ID requirement? The state’s letter concedes that the data it provides is “inaccurate and unreliable” and “highly misleading” due to a number of limitations. As a result, attempts by the Department of Justice to determine whether Senate Bill 14 will have a discriminatory impact are limited by the quality of the data.
It is for this reason that Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) sent an October 10, 2011 letter to the Secretary of State and the State Demographer asking the two agencies to work together to produce the requested data. Unfortunately, this did not take place, and the resulting information submitted to the Department of Justice was, in the state’s own words, “highly misleading.”
“I am extremely disappointed that the state felt comfortable submitting data that even they admit is ‘inaccurate and unreliable’ and ‘highly misleading.’ There should be a higher standard for information that attempts to dispel concerns about voter ID’s likely discriminatory impact,” said Ellis. “Had the state followed my recommendation utilized the State Demographer, I am certain that the Justice Department would have better data to work with.”
“It is obvious that supporters of Voter ID have virtually no reliable data on its impact on minority voters, so it is clear the Justice Department should reject preclearance of the law, just as they have done for South Carolina’s attempt to weaken minority voting rights,” said Ellis.