Answering a swarm of phone calls during a brief break on the House floor, Rep. Betty Brown , R-Terrell, kept telling reporters she was misunderstood.
“I never meant they should change their names,” said Rep. Brown.
[Ramey] Ko confirmed that Brown’s office called him after the Texas Democratic Party cried foul. Brown said she had called Ko to apologize.
“We’re ready to work with any of these people who are having problems and have them educate us on anything that might be going on that we’re unaware of,” said Brown.
There’s video at that link as well. One way that Rep. Brown could make good on that promise and show that her apology was sincere would be to get behind HB1457 by Rep. Scott Hochberg, which is currently pending in the Elections Committee on which Rep. Brown sits. The bill states, in part:
SECTION 1. Chapter 11, Election Code is amended by adding Section 11.0005 to read as follows: Sec. 11.0005. GENERAL POLICY REGARDING ELIGIBILITY. It is the policy of this state that no qualified citizen shall be denied the right to vote due to governmental clerical errors or due to technical defects on an applicant’s voter registration application as long as the information on the application demonstrates that the citizen is qualified to vote.
In other words, just because some clerk somewhere got confused about how someone’s name is spelled, or over the fact that some people are legitimately known by more than one name, doesn’t mean someone who is eligible to vote cannot vote. That would go a long way, I think. Heck, just imagine how many people here in Harris County would have benefited from having this in place last year. What do you say, Betty?
Anyway. There’s not much point at this time in trying to round up more links about this, since you pretty much can’t read a blog today and not stumble across some reference to the story. I will point out the Asian American Action Fund blog, which has a couple of statements, the former from the Asian-American Democrats of Texas and the latter from New York City Council Member John Liu, that are worth reading. Maybe, just maybe, this incident will make a few people realize what the opposition to voter ID has been about, and we can keep something bad from happening when the House takes up the matter. I’m going to hope so, anyway.
UPDATE: OK, here is one more link worth your time, from MOMocrats.
UPDATE: One more statement, from the gressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), is beneath the fold.
UPDATE: More reactions to Brown from around the country.
CAPAC opposes voter ID laws that disenfranchise disadvantaged communities
Washington, DC – Today, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) expressed fierce opposition to voter identification legislation that raise significant barriers to voting for minorities and other disadvantaged communities. Rep. Michael Honda, chair of CAPAC, issued the following statement, particularly addressing Texas voter identification legislation, SB 362:
“Voter identification laws have a discriminatory impact on minority communities, new American voters, the poor, elderly, and those with disabilities. Placed into proper historical context, the financial costs involved in obtaining proper documents needed to get a government-issued ID, along with transportation costs and time taken off from work, amount to a modern-day poll tax.
“With respect to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, demands for identification usually stem from perceptions that the voter does not appear to be an American citizen, perceptions that are based on xenophobia and discrimination. The recent comments of Texas State Representative Betty Brown clearly reflect these xenophobic and un-American sentiments. We look forward to a public apology from Rep. Brown for her outrageous proposal that Asian American voters adopt names that are ‘easier for Americans to deal with’ for purposes of identifying names on voter rolls.
“A study by Project Vote noted that Asian American voters in states that required a form of ID were 8.5% less likely to vote compared to Asian American voters in states without voter identification requirements. Research from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) shows that poll workers oftentimes improperly demand identification from Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, particularly language minority voters, even when not required by law.
“These studies give us some insight into the nature of voter identification laws. That is why the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus opposes voter identification legislation such as the Texas bill, as they strike the wrong balance. There is no proof that voter fraud is a significant problem, and data shows a disparate impact on vulnerable populations. In this day and age, I am appalled that there are still those who are working harder to prevent voters from exercising their democratic right than helping to ensure that eligible voter can participate.”