Justice Dept to Challenge States on Voting Rights

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In the Texas case, the department is not directly intervening but is filing what’s known as a statement of interest in support of the private groups that have filed suit.

Holder said that based on evidence of intentional racial discrimination presented last year in a redistricting case in Texas, “we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.”

In Texas, there is a history of “pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities,” Holder added.

A three-judge panel in San Antonio has been looking at Texas voting maps since 2011, when the court threw out boundaries drawn by a then-GOP supermajority in the statehouse.

An ensuing legal battle between the state and a coalition of minority rights groups wreaked havoc on the 2012 elections in Texas, delaying party primaries that ultimately used temporary maps drawn by the court.

Under the direction of GOP Gov. Rick Perry last month, the Legislature ratified those interim maps as permanent over the objection of Democrats, who still believe the maps are biased and underrepresent minorities.

Aides to Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

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