(PNS reporting from AUSTIN) The Republican-controlled Texas legislature (photo) has wasted no time in exploiting last month’s Supreme Court ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act:
The lawmakers have passed a draconian redistricting scheme and enacted new voter registration requirements that many liken to a poll tax.
SB17, nicknamed “The Liberty Forever Bill,” mandates a laundry list of voter registration requirements “to ensure that only Texans are allowed to vote.” It passed Saturday and awaits GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s signature.
Among the measure’s exacting requirements:
- Voters “shall say their name in the English language, even if their name is in another language, such as Spanish”
- Voters must “show proficiency in the naming the fallen heroes at the Battle of the Alamo”
- Voters must own “real property in the state via a warranty deed that is not subject to a mortgage lien at time of voter registration”
Sen. Molly Cottle (R-The Colony) explained:
“Knowledge of liberty is essential to voting correctly and owning land outright is a longstanding requirement under the traditions of the English common law system,” she said. A sixth-generation Texan, Cottle is the owner of thousands of acres of cattle-grazing land inherited from her ancestors who “fought the Comanches back in the 1840s.”
Latino activists and civil rights groups claim the new requirements are racist and the regulations specifically target the state’s burgeoning Latino population.
“My name is in Spanish, how could I possibly say it in English? And I have a mortgage, which my parents had to co-sign,” said Ramiro Puente, a community organizer from San Antonio. “This is getting kind of ridiculous; I can go by Ramiro Bridges, pero, what’s the English version of Ramiro? I don’t think it is even Spanish, maybe Celtic in origin.”
Roel Duran of El Paso, a web programmer with PincheInternets.org, was confused. “Do the fallen heroes include the Tejanos who died alongside Bowie and Crockett, like Damacio Jiménez? And did they have to support slavery like the gringos?” he asked PNS.
The redistricting plan wasn’t making any new friends either. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have balked at the new districts.
Sen. Elizabeth Alonso from (D-Laredo) had a picturesque description:
It looks like Rick Perry took a crayon and wrote ‘Mexicanz’ over South Texas where most Latinos live and lumped them into just a few districts to cover millions of people.
Perry has said the districts were just a way for Republican lawmakers to reach out to Hispanic voters by letting them elect a predictable and easy-to-control number of their representatives of choice.
The new districts, he noted, allow Republican lawmakers to know where the Hispanic maids (devious or not devious — both included) and gardeners reside to make it convenient for the “job creators” to locate them.
Eres Nerd contributed to this report.
POCHO apologizes in advance to the esteemed members of the Latin American Clown Congress whose photo we shamefully borrowed for our own purposes. We do not insinuate, imply nor hint that the clowns are in anyway linked with a disreputable, ignorant, hateful organization like the Texas legislature nor are they in any way associated with the Lone Star State’s Chief Executive, Rick Perry (photo.)
Rick Perry photo by DonkeyHotey.