A Texas-Sized Reminder of Why the Voting Rights Act Still Matters

Published on
by

A Texas-Sized Reminder of Why the Voting Rights Act Still Matters

President Lyndon B. Johnson met with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the signing of the Voting Rights Act on Aug. 6, 1965. This week a federal appeals court cited the landmark civil rights law in its decision to strike down Texas' strict photo ID requirement for voters. (Photo: LBJ Library/Yoichi Okamoto.)

Date on which a federal appeals court panel unanimously struck down Texas' photo ID requirement for voters, ruling that it has a "discriminatory effect" and thus violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965: 8/5/2015

Days before the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's signing of the Voting Rights Act that the decision came in the Texas case, titled Veasey v. Abbott, which was brought by voters, civil rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department: 1

Number of federal courts that have now ruled against Texas' photo ID requirement, considered one of the nation's strictest: 3

Number of Texas voters who had to show a photo ID during the 2014 elections after the same federal appeals court allowed the law to take effect: 13.6 million

Estimated number of Texas voters who lack one of seven forms of approved ID: 600,000

Number of times more likely Hispanic and black registered voters, respectively, are than their white counterparts to lack the ID needed under the Texas law: 195, 305

Year in which Texas' Republican-controlled legislature passed the controversial photo ID law: 2011

Year in which a federal court blocked the law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required Texas and other states with a history of voter discrimination to get federal preclearance for election law changes: 2012

Length of time that passed between when the U.S. Supreme Court in its June 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision effectively struck down Section 5 and when Texas implemented its photo ID law: just hours

While the GOP majority in the Texas legislature claimed rampant voter fraud makes strict photo ID rules necessary, number of people who have actually been accused of such ballot fraud since 2004: 4

Section of the Voting Rights Act the Texas lawsuit was brought under, which prohibits practices that deny or abridge the right to vote: 2

Number of pages in the complicated ruling, which ordered the question of discriminatory intent and potential remedies back to the trial court for further review while rejecting the lower court's finding that that law represents an unconstitutional poll tax because of the cost of getting needed documents: 49

Percent odds observers give for Texas appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court: almost 100

Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis is the Director and regular contributor to the Institute for Southern Study's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Sue is the author or co-author of five Institute reports, including Faith in the Gulf (Aug/Sept 2008), Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (January 2008) and Blueprint for Gulf Renewal (Aug/Sept 2007). Sue holds a Masters in Journalism from New York University.

Share This Article