Sen. Rodney Ellis has a letter signed by 11 senators saying that they won't vote to bring up a bill that would require a picture ID and proof of citizenship to vote or register to vote - which basically kills the bill.
Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, decried the proposals as attempts at "voter intimidation." Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, said the measures amount to "going after Granny and the disabled," along with people of color.
Supporters of the measures have said more security is needed at the ballot box. Opponents say that's not been proven and more requirements will further drive down voter participation.
Ellis released a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst signed by 11 senators who say they'll vote against considering such legislation.
The attempt to weaken voting rights is now a national movement. Twenty five states have either enacted or attempted to pass legislation that would require photo ID to be eligible to vote despite no documented evidence that a voter has voted in any state using false identification.
In late 2005, the Washington Post reported that career attorneys in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division recommended that the federal government reject the state of Georgia's plan to require voters to provide photo identification, but were overridden by political appointees within the department. According to the report, career officials found that the Georgia Voter ID plan would weaken African Americans right to vote. Last month, a U.S. District Court judge blocked implementation of the Georgia Voter ID plan, comparing the law to the poll tax.
"There is overwhelming evidence that the voter ID plan is a solution in search of a problem," said Ellis. "Supporters of this effort continue to throw charges, anecdotal evidence and rhetoric around, but cannot point to one single case of voter impersonation. Those of us opposed, however can cite case after case of voter intimidation and suppression. The same concerns we raised here in Texas were echoed by career justice department officials."
A handful of legislators stood beside Ellis at the podium, including two members of the committee that heard the bills. Rep. Lon Burnam, a Fort Worth Democrat, called the proposal a "21st Century poll tax," while Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) said he'd checked up on claims of voter impersonation (when a voter misrepresents themselves at a polling place) that were raised in committee by the bills' authors, and found no evidence such a problem existed. When he asked the Secretary of State's office about voter impersonation in the last five years, Anchia said he was told they had not received a single complaint.