Holder: Texas Electoral Redistricting Maps ‘Manipulated’ to Minimize ‘Minority Electoral Strength’

Eric Holder-Youth Violence

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention in Washington, Monday, April 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the Justice Department is awaiting a court decision on its objection to proposed redistricting plans in Texas for the state House and U.S. Congress because of “evidence suggesting that electoral maps were manipulated to give the appearance of minority control while minimizing minority electoral strength.”

“We argued as we have successfully in the past, that this is precisely the type of discrimination that Section 5 was intended to block. This case has been tried, and we are now awaiting the court’s decision,” Holder said, speaking at a voting rights conference held by the Congressional Black Caucus and the Conference of National Black Churches.

“As you know and have worked to draw attention to, the past two years have brought nearly two dozen new state laws and executive orders from more than a dozen states that can make it significantly harder for many eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012. In response to some of these changes in areas covered by Section 5, the Justice Department has initiated careful, thorough and independent reviews,” Holder said.

“We are now examining a number of redistricting plans in covered jurisdictions as well as other types of changes to our election systems and processes, including changes to the procedures governing third-party registration organizations to early voting procedures and to photo identification requirements to ensure that there’s no discriminatory purpose or effect,” he added.

“Now if the state passes a law – a new voting law – and meets its burden of showing that the law is not discriminatory, we’ll follow the law, and we will approve that change. And as we have demonstrated repeatedly, when a jurisdiction fails to meet its burden of proving that a proposed voting change would not have a racially discriminatory effect, we will object as we have in 15 separate cases since last September,” he added.

In addition to monitoring proposed redistricting, the Justice Department is paying close attention to new voter ID laws.

“Now unfortunately, electoral redistricting is far from the only area of concern in covered jurisdictions. The recent wave of changes to state-level voter identification laws also has presented a number of problems requiring the department’s attention,” Holder said.

“In December, we objected to South Carolina’s voter ID law after finding – and this is based on the state’s own data, the data that they sent to us – that the proposed change would place an unfair burden on non-white voters. And this past March we objected to a photo ID requirement in Texas because it would have a disproportionate effect on Hispanic voters,” he added.

Ironically, during a hidden camera investigation in April, spearheaded by conservative activist filmmaker James O’Keefe, a man checked into Holder’s polling precinct in Northwest D.C. and attempted to vote as the attorney general.

When asked whether the man would need to show ID, the polling worker said no identification was necessary to vote. The man left the polling station without checking in, saying he was going to his car to get his ID anyway.

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