FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2017
Jesse Melgar or Sam Mahood
SACRAMENTO – California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a joint statement today in response to the United States Department of Justice’s decision to drop a key claim in litigation alleging that the Texas legislature purposefully enacted a strict voter ID law to make it harder for minorities to vote.
“The decision by President Trump’s Department of Justice to withdraw its claim that Texas intentionally discriminated against African American and Latino voters is an abdication of its responsibility to vigorously enforce the Voting Rights Act. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to reverse course disenfranchises the more than 600,000 Texans that do not possess the types of identification required by the strict Texas statute. More fundamentally, it risks denying those seeking to participate in the greatest guarantee of our democracy – the right to vote. We support the efforts of the numerous advocacy groups that have been fighting for access to the ballot on behalf of all Americans for years and specifically for those groups that will continue to argue that the Texas law was motivated by a discriminatory purpose. Their work is more important than ever.
“From the time that the Voting Rights Act became law, the U.S. Department of Justice has often been at the forefront in fighting for the right of historically underrepresented communities to participate in the political process. In the post-Shelby County v. Holder world, in which key Voting Rights Act protections were eroded by the United States Supreme Court in 2013, it is critical that the U.S. Department of Justice not abandon its mission. Since the Shelby County decision, dozens of states and local jurisdictions have introduced or enacted laws designed to suppress voting rights, including restrictive voter ID laws, reduction or elimination of early voting, and onerous voter registration requirements. The U.S. Department of Justice should always stand firm against those who seek to limit electoral access. But, if it refuses to do its job, others must step forward to fight for our democracy.
“California has taken bold steps to expand opportunities for electoral participation – providing online voter registration, streamlining voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles, and establishing early voting at community vote centers to expand opportunities to vote. California will continue defending policies that expand voting rights to all eligible voters. We are prepared to do everything in our power to protect against this administration's efforts to undermine voting rights.”