The Texas Voter ID law adopted by lawmakers in 2011 but later blocked by the U.S. Justice Department will take effect immediately, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
In a statement Tuesday, Abbott also said, “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”
His announcement came soon after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.
Considered at the heart of the historic civil rights legislation, Section 4 mandated that states like Texas with a history of discrimination get pre-clearance before making an changes in election law or how elections are conducted.
“Laws that apply unequally to just some states have no place in our nation,” Abbott said.
But Manuel Medina, chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, said the law served to protect minority voters.
“Republicans have time after time tried to prevent voters from having access to voter registration, to going to vote,” Medina said.
However, Robert Stovall, vice president of the Bexar County Republican Party, said progress has been made since the Voting Rights Act was enacted.
“I think most of us agree that we don’t necessarily think like our grandparents and our great-grandparents. The hearts and minds of people have changed,” Stovall said.
Yet Medina pointed to the uproar over redistricting.
Medina asked, “How do you have 90 percent population growth in minority communities and they get 10 percent of the new Congressional districts?”
Stovall said, “We don’t discriminate in any kind of way.”
The high court’s ruling said Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act must be re-written by Congress to reflect societal changes and which states still need further review and pre-clearance by the Justice Department.
Both Stovall and Medina agreed that may be impossible in a sharply divided Congress.
“I would find it difficult to believe that they will be our friends today,” Medina said.
Stovall said, “Let’s hope so for the sake of all of us in the country.”