April 24, 2007
One voter ID measure passes, one gets delayed

I had hope for defeating the voter ID measures, but not that much hope - there's only so much you can do when your the minority and the majority really really wants something. And so one bill passed while the other hit a snag and will be delayed until next week.

[HB218] tentatively passed 76-68 and is expected to go to the Senate after a final vote today.

A similar bill passed the House two years ago only to die in the Senate. If this bill receives final House approval, it likely faces a similar fate with a bloc of senators signing a letter promising to keep the bill from coming up for debate.

To cast a ballot, a voter would have to provide proof of identification with any valid photo ID, including an employment badge. Nonphotographic alternatives would include paychecks, utility bills or other documentation that includes the person's name and address.

Actually, it's more pernicious than that, as Vince notes.

Before discussing the implications of this vote further, I want to direct you to an excellent exchange between the author and House Democratic Leader Jim Dunnam (D-Waco):

DUNNAM: So if I show up without a voter ID card, my voter registration card, but with five government photo IDs, I will get a provisional ballot, correct?
B. BROWN: You would have a provisional ballot, because you need to bring your voter registration card with you.
DUNNAM: And my vote won't count.
B. BROWN: It will be a provisional ballot.

So, yeah. Your vote likely won't count. This was something about the bill even I didn't realize, and I've studied it extensively. I actually thought that, even under the bill, if you didn't have your voter registration card and had multiple other forms of ID, your vote would count (ie, no provisional ballot). Not so however. Guess it's another thing the Republicans managed to sneak in in the middle of the night.

Better go find your voter reg card and keep it someplace safe. I can already hear the howls of outrage when people who show up with their driver's license find out that theirs will be a provisional ballot.

RG Ratcliffe does a better job than Clay Robison did in characterizing the arguments over HB218, but Gardner Selby did the best by far. He also provides a little hope that there will be a legal backstop for this madness:

[Bill author Betty Brown] accepted an amendment exempting anyone 80 or over from the voter ID requirement, which is an exception that proves the rule. The 80-and-over amendment sounds awfully unconstitutional in that it attaches a greater significance to some voters than others and therefore violates the equal protection clause with regard to voters under age 80.

She took an amendment that would give victims of natural disasters a chance to vote without having to produce picture ID for a year and another amendment that would exempt disabled veterans.

Finally, while the final bill passed with 76 votes total, some early amendments that might have basically gutted it failed by as little as one vote. Two Democratic House members, Aaron Pena and Kino Flores, were not present yesterday. Neither were two Republicans - Kirk England and Tony Goolsby - who were reportedly leaning towards crossing over to support the Dems. You do the math. BOR and Latinos for Texas discuss the prospects in the Senate, where Sen. Rodney Ellis has the votes to block it from coming to the floor, assuming that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst doesn't change the rules midstream. We'll see. Hal has more.

UPDATE: Ed Sills writes to tell me that the excerpt from Gardner Selby's piece that I quoted was taken from an email he'd sent out on behalf of the Texas AFL-CIO. I've got a copy of that email now, and everything in Selby's piece from "And Ed Sills of the Texas AFL-CIO saw it this way" is from it. I'm still glad Selby aired what Sills wrote, but he needs to learn how to use the blockquote tag. My apologies for any confusion.

Eye on Williamson has more on what transpired yesterday.

UPDATE: More from The Texas Blue.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 24, 2007 to That's our Lege

I don't know how many hopeless people vote, but they certainly should be allowed to. How will they get their voter ID cards?

Posted by: Michael Hurta on April 24, 2007 12:46 PM

Fortunately, the wording of the bill is what becomes law and not Rep. Brown's word. We've been covering the Voter ID bills as well, and mentioned the loopholes Rep. Anchia and Berman found in the bill. None of the passed amendments seem to deal with these problems, either. Either someone in the Senate will wise up, or we're going to have a jurisprudence issue on our hands.

Posted by: George Nassar on April 24, 2007 1:28 PM