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Hispanic Group, NAACP Join Texas Voter ID Lawsuit

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the Texas NAACP filed a lawsuit Tuesday to overturn the state’s Voter ID law, joining the Justice Department in fighting the law.

The two groups filed their petition with a federal court in Corpus Christi, the same court where other civil rights groups and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are fighting the requirement that voters must show a government-issued photo ID card to cast a ballot.

All of the law’s opponents are arguing the Republican-controlled Legislature created an illegal barrier to voting for poor minorities and people who live in rural areas. Minorities make up the majority of voters who do not have one of the six forms of ID required. Only the Election Identification Certificate is available for free from the Department of Public Safety.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has defended the law as necessary to ensure fair elections. All three lawsuits are expected to be consolidated into one later this year in federal court. So far the plaintiffs have not asked the judge to stop implementation of the law in time for November’s constitutional referendums.

“As our state’s top legal official, Attorney General Abbott should be working with minority communities, not against us, to ensure that the voting process is straightforward and non-partisan,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the San Antonio Democrat who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the NAACP and the Department of Justice fought a similar case in Washington, D.C., where a three-judge panel stopped enforcement of the law. But the U.S. Supreme Court took away the lower court’s power to pre-emptively stop the Voter ID law from taking effect.

“As we all know, Texas has a voter identification law that has already been ruled to be discriminatory by a bipartisan three-judge panel in Washington, D.C.,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the NAACP Texas State Conference. “It is only by a technicality that the law may now be implemented.”

In June, U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth filed the papers calling the requirement to show an ID card at the ballot box unconstitutional.

Abbott, though, insists the law is legal.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws do not suppress legal votes, but do help prevent illegal votes,” he said last month when the second lawsuit was filed.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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