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Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks At Urban League Nat'l Conference

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PHILADELPHIA -

Us Attorney General, Eric Holder, talked voting rights in Philadelphia today. He called for increased federal oversight in places where discrimination persists. Holder addressed the Urban League's National Conference, under way at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The Attorney General made clear he was deeply disappointed in last month's Supreme Court ruling that stripped away part of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. But he told his audience that the battle to protect voting rights will not go away.

Pennsylvania is now embroiled in a major court fight over a tough new voter identification law that supporters believe will reduce voter fraud, and critics claim will disenfranchise poor and elderly voters.

Halfway across the country, the Attorney General is taking aim at the state of Texas, where he claims pervasive discrimination against racial minorities still exists. Holder wants permission to pre-approve any changes in that state's voting laws. It's called pre-clearance.

"Pre-clearance has proven to be an affective mechanism that puts on hold any voting changes until they have been subjected to a fair and thorough review," says Holder. "And today, I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the state of Texas to a pre-clearance regime similar to one required by section five of the Voting Rights act."

"We believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a pre-clearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices," says Holder.

The Attorney General's speech did not include a reference to the controversial jury verdict in the George Zimmerman case down in Florida.

That will take center stage tomorrow, when Trayvon Martin's mother is scheduled to address the Urban League conference.

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