Yesterday, the Justice Department demanded more information from the State on VoterID.
Cottonmouth has the actual letter, which is pretty fascinating reading. I’ve attached it at the end of this post.
Just as an aside: When and if some parts of the more paranoid precincts of the conservative movement see the list of things being requested, it is really going to set them off. Like atomic-blast level set them off. They are really going to know the federal black helicopters are coming.
The letter outlines some history. You need to understand how preclearance works. Under the Voting Rights Act, if a state or jurisdiction has been found to have a history of voter suppression, to make any changes in law relating to voting, they must have those changes “precleared” by the Justice Department. To obtain preclearance, the state has to show that the provision doesn’t have discriminatory effect, and that it was not passed with discriminatory purpose. If the Justice Department refuses to preclear, the state’s recourse is an action in the District of Columbia federal courts.
The preclearance requirement is why you are hearing somewhat different results relating to VoterID in different states– the states that aren’t subject to preclearance don’t have this particular burden.
Here’s what has happened so far. First, after passage of the constitutional amendment, the state moved to have the constitutional amendment precleared. DoJ said, “Nope. You have to have implementing legislation, and we won’t preclear without that because we can’t tell what you are planning to do.” This was during the term of legislature. As soon as the implementing bill was passed, the state sought to preclear that. DoJ said, “Nope. This implementing legislation obviously requires regulations, rules, and like actions to carry it out, and we can’t tell without those.” The state responded: This is it, it’s all of it, and we want you to pass on this.
The DoJ responded with the letter from yesterday. It demands a mountain information:
1) The factual basis for the state’s “determination that implementation” of VoterID “will not have a retrogressive effect on minority citizens in” voting, along with data reviewed, a description of how the state made that determination, and copies of studies, documents and so on relating to that. They also ask for the same about any determination by the state that it will have a retrogressive effect.
2) The factual basis for the state’s determination that implementaiton “was not adopted, even in part, for the purpose of discriminating against minority citizens” along with studies, etc relating to that.
3) In order “to conduct a statistically valid analysis of the effect of the” VoterID requirement, identify everyone registered to vote and provide their name, racial identity, date of birth, residence, county, voting precinct, drivers license number, non-drive id card number, social security number, or unique number assigned by the state. While they ask for all information in electronic form if possible, for this and the next three they require electronic form.
4) Same information for all individuals with an id sufficient to meet the requirements for VoterID in the House bill.
5) Same information for any person listed in the database maintained for gun permits.
6) Same information for any person issued a photo id by the state, or a college photo, or government employee photo id.
It’s obvious where they are going with this, comparing PhotoIDs that don’t qualify to those that do and comparing racial breakdowns on those and gun permits.
7) Location of all offices where you can get a qualifying id and their hours of operation.
8) List of boards, authorities and entities that issue acceptable ids.
9) List of what would be acceptable ids under the statute.
The letter also notes that decision of the DC court in the Texas case listing actions that might mitigate the retrogressive effect found in Texas, and asks the state what mitigating steps it intends to implement.
The state has sixty days to respond or the DoJ can just say no.
I thought that Secretary of State Hoseman’s press release in response to this letter was pretty hilarious:
The Department of Justice has requested information from the Attorney General as to whether the addition of a Constitutional voter identification provision had a discriminatory purpose. That issue was decided last November by a vote of all the citizens of Mississippi in a free and fair election.
The Department of Justice also asked if there is a discriminatory effect. We believe the process of implementation authorized by the Mississippi Legislature and the rules and regulations will show no discrimination against any citizen of Mississippi.”
Seriously, I can’t imagine how VoterID survives this level of scrutiny.
Unless, of course, the United States Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, choses to strike down the Voting Rights Act.
Here’s the DoJ letter.