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More on Day One of the House hearings on voter ID

House Elections Committee Chair Todd Smith is full of ennui at how things have gone so far.

Throughout today’s proceedings, Chairman Todd Smith, R-Bedford, has repeatedly insisted that he is “unimpressed,” and even on one occasion, “fabulously unimpressed,” with both sides of the debate.


“Both sides are guilty of speculating without any substantiating evidence that this has any impact on turnout at all one way or the other,” Smith said.

Upon which side Smith believes the burden of proof falls has yet to be established, though past statements indicate that it might not matter.

Regardless, the show Smith is currently running on the House side is markedly different from the Senate’s handling of Voter ID, which left many witnesses unable to testify. The decision to break the testimony up into two days will undoubtedly allow more to have their voices heard. The discussion also seems to have taken on a more productive tone.

“It is encouraging that, in the House, some members of both parties seem interested in considering reforms targeted at access and turnout in addition to security,” says Dustin Rynders of Advocacy, Inc., which advocates for the legal rights of disabled Texans. “This more comprehensive approach was completely absent in the Senate debate.”

Well, I can think of a way in which we could have avoided boring Rep. Smith. But here we are having the hearing anyway.

According to RG Ratcliffe, it’ll be a little while before any bills come to the floor.

Elections Chairman Todd Smith, R-Euless, said he does not expect his committee to vote on the bill until sometime in the next week or two.


Smith said he hopes to add language to the bill that would delay implementation for two years to educate the public about the need to have identification to vote. He said that change might win him enough votes to get this bill out of the House.

That’s as may be, but it’ll take a lot more than that to keep said bill from being harmful. I’ll say it again, if anyone who’s pushing this is serious about wanting to mitigate the effects, including same-day registrations in the final bill would be a big step in the right direction.

I see in that story that one of the witnesses testifying was Diane Trautman, who made an unsuccessful attempt to oust Paul Bettencourt last year as Tax Assessor before he decided to traipse off to greener pastures. She sent me a copy of her testimony, which I’ve posted as a Google document. I’m glad to see her hit back at Bettencourt, who was a tireless promoter of voter fraud myths, for his office’s shamefully sloppy handling of voter registrations last year. Check it out.

Today is the day for public testimony, so anyone who gave up before the Senate allnighter got around to that has a second chance to speak up. And believe it or not, there are other committee hearings going on in this shortened week, including one by Appropriations on the Senate budget bill.

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