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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bonnen Applauds SCOTUS Decision on Voting Rights Act

Insider's Report Vol. 9 No. 15

Yesterday's decision by the United States Supreme Court (Shelby County v. Holder) is a great victory for the State of Texas in ensuring the integrity of our elections.  The opinion ruled that Section 4 of the federal Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, and that its preclearance provisions "sharply depart" from the principle of equal sovereignty among the States.
In 2011, as Chair of the Select Committee on Voter Identification and Voter Fraud, I was a leader in the effort to pass the Voter ID Act in the Texas Legislature.  This legislation (SB 14), which I co-sponsored, restores the basic concept of "one person, one vote" within our electoral system by requiring a photo ID to cast a ballot, just as citizens are required to present identification to open a bank account, board a plane, obtain a fishing license, or rent a car.
However, Texas was unfairly subjected to scrutiny under Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.  This outdated federal law singled out a handful of states and prevented them from enacting election laws approved by state legislatures unless the state could get approval by a federal court or the Department of Justice.  The Texas Voter ID Act that I worked to pass in 2011 was among the new laws whose enactment was being stalled by our overreaching federal government.  I can personally attest to this fact, as I was one of the many witnesses who were deposed -- in my case, for over 17 hours -- when Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott defended the new law against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's ultimately successful efforts to nullify our Voter ID Act during the preclearance process.
In light of yesterday's ruling, Texas can assert its sovereignty in compliance with mandated protections against voter discrimination afforded by the U.S. Constitution, and enact our own election laws without federal intrusion.  This means that the 2011 Voter ID Act passed by the Texas Legislature has taken immediate effect.
I would encourage you to review the information provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety regarding the availability of Electronic Identification Certificates for those voters who do not already possess an acceptable form of photo ID.