El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement Thursday that the Department of Justice is asking a federal court in San Antonio to force Texas to get federal approval or "pre-clearance" before it makes any changes to its voting laws.
The request is available when intentional voting discrimination is found.
The decision comes a month after the United States Supreme Court struck down the map of where the pre-clearance requirement applied automatically, which included Texas and states in the South.
"There is something in the Voting Rights Act that allows for the Attorney General and others to still bring scrutiny on the state of Texas," said University of Texas El Paso Political Science Professor Gregory Rocha.
Rocha said that ever since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, there has been a legal challenge every time to how the state of Texas draws it’s Congressional and Legislative district lines.
"In every instance, courts have overturned the maps that have been drawn by the legislature as discriminatory," said Rocha.
State Representative Joe Moody said El Pasoans don't have to look too far back to see voting discrimination in El Paso. In 2011, a federal court in San Antonio threw out Texas Redistricting maps twice because they were discriminatory against African American Latinos. When the Supreme Court took the case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor specifically addressed District 78, which is represented by Joe Moody.
"In the Congressional side and the Texas House side, there were legal issues that have been in the courts over the last year and a half, looking at potentially watering down minority impact in election,” said Moody.
Moody and Rocha both said the outcome of this request will inevitably impact the validity of the Voter ID law.