Justice Department probes Pennsylvania voter ID law

WASHINGTON Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:56pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Justice is investigating whether Pennsylvania's new voter identification law discriminates against minorities, according to a letter released on Monday.

In a step toward a possible federal lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department sent a letter to Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele asking for data on the state's registered voters.

Passed in 1965 during the peak of the civil rights era, the Voting Rights Act bans rules that make it more difficult for minorities to vote.

The Justice Department will analyze the Pennsylvania data to determine if voters who lack proper ID under the new law are disproportionally black or Hispanic.

Pennsylvania's law will be challenged this week in state court by civil rights groups that say the law makes it too difficult for the general public to vote. If the law is upheld, a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination may follow.

Pennsylvania is one of 11 states to pass voter ID laws since 2010. The Republican-controlled state legislature said requiring voters to present ID at the polls will prevent fraud, while opponents say the law targets minority and elderly voters. The two groups vote mostly Democratic and are less likely to have valid ID.

The Justice Department has brought Voting Rights Act challenges against several other states for their voter ID laws. Lawsuits from Texas and South Carolina are pending.

(Reporting by Drew Singer; editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (5)
gregbrew56 wrote:

Unfortunately, Jim Crow is alive and well in these (dis)United States.

Jul 23, 2012 8:21pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
fedupaj wrote:
Are opponents of the voter ID law implying that minorities are incapable of presenting a photo ID? Thats pretty insulting to minorities. I would think the only persons who would have difficulty presenting a photo ID are those people ineligible to vote such as not being a registered voter or in the US illegally or a felon.

Jul 23, 2012 10:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
actnow wrote:
Eric Holders job seems to be to find President Obama the margin he needs to be reelected by attacking states that are trying to curb illegal immigration and voter fraud. This White House seems to be more focused on hi-jacking our democracy that protecting it.

Jul 23, 2012 10:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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