That wasn't his intent, of course, but it's clear to see in his plea for a "compromise" on the measure that the more people like Lt. Gov. Dewhurst argue for voter ID legislation, the more obvious it is that they're pursuing a partisan fix to a non-existent problem.
"I still can't believe we're not really close on this," Dewhurst told reporters after the Senate adjourned for the day, just a few minutes ago. "Democrats are concerned about elderly voters with no ID ... and I've wanted a grace period of 2-4 years. We've also considered having the state paying for the ID."
Asked why the Voter ID law is needed, Dewhurst cited allegations that surfaced last year during the presidential campaign in Ohio, of advocacy groups that registered to vote a number of fakers: "Mickey Mouse, the Dallas Cowboys starting team" among others.
"In Harris County, we had 4-5,000 people registered to vote who, when they were called for jury duty, they sent their (voter) cards back. That could have been a felony," he said.
As for the "Mickey Mouse" voter registration case Dewhurst cites, the thing to remember is that none of those obviously phony registrations turned into actual voter registration cards that were then used by actual people. No fraudulent votes were cast. There's been a relentless focus on this issue over the past few years by the state and national GOP, and the number of prosecutable cases that they've turned up, even by the most partisan Attorneys General and the Bush Justice Department, have been vanishingly few. They don't have the goods, so they point to something vaguely similar and hope it confuses people.
On the matter of voter registration, I'll refer you to these two posts by Matt Yglesias last fall. We deliberately make it hard to register to vote, and easy for people who want to vote and are perfectly eligible to vote to be denied that opportunity, as happened to many Harris County residents last year. If Dewhurst and the Republicans are really serious about finding a compromise, I say that Greg's idea about same-day voter registration, right up to and including Election Day, would be the starting point for such negotiations.
But I don't expect them to try. This is just a little good-cop stuff, done in the hope that we'll forget everything that came before now, including in this session. Dewhurst didn't force the two-thirds rule change to build consensus, he did it to clear a path. I expect him and his partymates to take it. The only question is what the Dems have in store to try to trip them up.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 04, 2009 to That's our Lege