January 28, 2008
Notes from the voter ID hearing on Friday

Eye on Williamson has a good roundup of media coverage from Friday's voter ID hearings in Austin, to which I'd add this Karen Brooks post and these three Observer posts. I have two comments to add:

- The partisan nature of this really couldn't be clearer. I mean, the star witness called by Elections Committee chair Rep. Leo Berman (R, Tyler) was Texas GOP chair Tina Benkiser. This isn't about protecting the "integrity" of the vote, it's about making it harder for certain people, whom Tina Benkiser knows full well tend to vote Democratic, to cast a ballot. We know this because of the continued lack of evidence that fraud-by-impersonation is any kind of problem at all, by the studied indifference by the GOP leadership to what kind of problems may exist with absentee and vote-by-mail (both of which skew Republican, which means they're A-OK as far as Benkiser is concerned), and by the equally stark lack of interest in ensuring the integrity of our electronic voting systems. The continued focus on this one specific aspect of elections, and the obvious ways in which it would benefit Republicans at the expense of Democrats, tells the story.

- Interestingly, State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R, Houston) let the curtain slip a bit in this comment:

"If five or 10 people cast votes fraudulently, that means something to me because every vote is sacred," Bohac said.

Compare that to this:

Texas has between 150,000 to 400,000 registered voters who have no form of government-issued photo identification, said Toby Moore, former project manager for the Commission on Federal Election Reform.

Bohac, who sounds to me to be conceding the point that fraud-by-impersonation is anything but common, is saying that he's prepared to disenfranchise up to 400,000 people in Texas in order to ensure that five cases of fraud-by-impersonation don't occur. The point about this being an extreme overreaction to a nonexistent problem could not be made more clearly than that.

The best way to make this issue go away is to get a Democratic majority in the House. If you're as tired of this crap as I am, your mission is clear. And if you need a little more inspiration, check out this Google video of State Sen. Mario Gallegos, the hero of the voter ID fight from last year, courtesy of the Lone Star Project.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 28, 2008 to That's our Lege