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BLACK COLLEGE STUDENTS SET EYES ON VICTORY IN TEXAS V. HOLDER LEGAL CHALLENGE

Argues Voter ID law is discriminatory to young minority voters

HOUSTON, July 8, 2012 – Representatives from the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund are in Washington, D.C. today to participate in a precedent setting civil rights case, Texas v. Holder. The Texas League of Young Voters, along with a group of African-American college students from Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern universities, are defendant-intervenors in the lawsuit, joining forces as plaintiffs, with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department, to defend and protect the voting rights of every college student and young minority voter in Texas.

The Texas League of Young Voters is represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the lawsuit. The trial is set to begin Monday, July 9 in United States District Court before a three-panel judge. This is the first Voter ID case to be challenged in U.S. District Court and could set the precedent for challenges by other states that have implemented Voter ID laws.

Earlier this year, with the collaboration of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Texas League of Young Voters issued a joint letter urging the Attorney General Eric Holder during the preclearance comment process to reject Texas’s photo ID measure after determining that many students at historically Black colleges in Texas, like Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern, would be stripped of their voting rights because they do not have and cannot easily obtain a Texas state-issued identification card other than their student ID cards.

The Texas League of Young Voters, a group that engages young voters between the ages of 18 and 35, feels that their constituents are the most impacted by the Voter ID law. They argue that the Voter ID law is discriminatory and presents major obstacles for young minority voters – particularly college students. The law, as written, allows voters to use a concealed handgun licenses as an acceptable form of identification, but not a student ID card from colleges and universities.

“Many of our student members voted in previous elections in Texas using the only form of identification they had—a state-issued student ID—which would no longer be acceptable under Texas’s proposed photo ID law,” said Christina Sanders, Director of the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund. “While a student ID will not satisfy Texas’s proposed ID measure, a concealed handgun license will. We won’t stand idly by and let the state penalize its young people for pursuing higher education.”

Voter ID laws in Texas, and in other states, disproportionately affect voters of color. Nationally, only 8 percent of white voting-age citizens lack a government-issued ID, but 25 percent of African-American voting age citizens lack a government-issued photo ID. Yet another provision in the Texas Voter ID law banned state-issued student IDs as a proper form of photo ID. As a result, thousands of college students across Texas, which is home to several historically Black colleges and universities, risk being denied their voting rights.

In Texas v. Holder, the state of Texas is asking a federal court to approve, under the Section 5 preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most restrictive government-issued photo identification laws in the country. The state of Texas previously asked the DOJ to approve its Voter ID law, however, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division blocked the state from enforcing the new law, contending that the law would disproportionately affect eligible voters of color, who are more likely to lack accepted forms of photo ID than eligible white voters.

For more information about Texas v. Holder or the Texas League of Young Voters, please contact Blake Green at 713-542-3003 or by email: texas@youngvoter.org. To view a short video prepared about the Voter ID law, please visit http://youtu.be/cOdfk53Bc18.

About Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund: The Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund is an affiliate of the League of Young Voters Education Fund, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. The League empowers young people to participate in the democratic process and create progressive political change on the local, state and national level – with a focus on non-college youth and youth from low-income communities and communities of color.

For more information, please visit www.texasyoungvoter.org.

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Contact:
Christina Sanders, 713-899-0737
Blake Green, 713-542-3003
Email: texas@youngvoter.org

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