NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #89

Ticket Camera Opponents Are Branded Racists

Lawyers for American Traffic Solutions (ATS) are taking a no-holds barred approach as they try to prevent residents in the Texas cities of Houston and Baytown from casting an up-or-down vote on the use of red-light cameras. Enough signatures were gathered on petitions in both cities to place a “ban the cameras” referendum on their November 2010 ballots.

ATS, one of the two prominent ticket camera contractors in the United States (along with Redflex Traffic Systems), has a reason to be concerned about the continued existence of their automated ticketing programs in Houston and Baytown: Red-light and highway speed traffic enforcement camera programs have never survived a public vote.

According to ATS, voting on ticket cameras during a general election is a violation of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Attorney Andy Taylor represents the camera company and he wrote, “Because the camouflaged referendum has been improperly placed on the ballot, a potential for racial discrimination exists. More specifically, minority voters may lose their ability to elect candidates of their choice in local, statewide and federal offices.” ATS argues that voters who oppose photo enforcement programs are historically conservative and will vote in greater numbers than usual because of the anti-camera issue, thereby overwhelming the general election vote totals of minorities.

The charge of racism is a desperate and absurd attempt to prevent local citizens from voting out ticket cameras. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are among many groups who have waged campaigns against photo enforcement.

The ATS lawsuits to remove the ticket camera referenda from the fall ballots were filed in early September in a federal court in Houston and in a state court in Baytown.

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