Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry signed a law last year that requires all Texas voters to present a photo identification at the voting booth. He claimed that most voters wanted some form of voter ID law in place, to prevent fraud.
But the Justice Department ruled that law invalid, saying it violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That was the topic of U.S. AG Eric Holder's speech to the convention of the NAACP.
"Under the proposed law, concealed hand gun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID, but student IDs would not. Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes."
He said that the arc of American history has always been moved toward expanding the electorate, but told the delegation that the JD will not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic process.
"In our efforts to protect voting rights and to prevent voting fraud, we would be vigilant and we will be strong. But let me be clear, let me very clear, we will not allow political pretext to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right."
As expected Holder's speech drew nothing but favorable comments from the delegates.
Male delegate: "It's a reaffirmation of what we all here believe in, because it's easy for people who've not been involved in the struggle, (to) say what you folks griping about? It's all about the number of people who vote for things that I believe in."
Female delegate: "He hit everything on the nose, point by point."
Male delegate: "He is a man that has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he needs all the support he can get from the people who know he's doing the right thing."
A 3-judge federal panel is hearing the case this week in Washington, after Texas sued the Justice Department which blocked the law under the Voting Rights Act in March. Seventeen states currently have voter ID laws on the books.