May 03, 2005
HB1706 passes the House

It's a dark day for democracy in Texas.

A voter registration card would be rendered meaningless under legislation the House approved Monday that would require voters to present identification at the polls.

Voter registration would still be required, but the card itself largely used by elderly residents, homeless people and out-of-state students in lieu of ID would no longer exempt a voter from having to present a driver's license or state ID card at the voting booth.

I have always used my voter's reg card to vote. It's true that I carry other forms of ID on me, and that this will not personally affect me, but that't not the point. The point is that Mary Denny and the Republicans in the Lege are saying that what I have done, what just about everybody has done all along, isn't good enough. Now I have to prove that I haven't stolen someone else's voter's reg card before they'll let me exercise my Constitutional right to vote.

Lacking those, a voter could present two forms of nonphoto ID. And a voter could still cast a "provisional ballot" that would only be counted if that voter showed up in county offices with identification within five days.

"When people feel that their vote can be stolen from them, we need to take every precaution," said Rep. Mary Denny, R-Aubrey, chairwoman of the House Elections Committee and sponsor of the so-called Voter ID bill. "We're not trying to intimidate anyone; we're just trying to make sure we safeguard every voter's votes."

The House approved the measure, 83-63, with most Republicans supporting it. It still must pass the Senate.

Democrats tried for two hours to weaken or kill the bill, calling it "a modern-day poll tax" and "a systematic effort to suppress the vote."

State leaders said it was part of a national effort by the GOP to disenfranchise mostly Democratic voters. About 20 states have passed legislation in the last few years requiring some photo ID; minority groups have vowed court challenges.

"This invalidates what has been years ... of Texans bringing their voting certificate to the polls ... and the byproduct is they'll be disenfranchised," said Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, a leading opponent. "It would be harder to vote in Texas than it would be to vote in Afghanistan and Iraq. We're trying to promote democracy, but we're hurting democracy in the state of Texas."

An attempt to require county elections officials to verify that the provisional ballots were not legal rather than requiring the voter to make an extra trip to county offices was soundly rejected.

Much of the discussion focused on whether the right to exist without an ID and still vote was more important than the government's ability to double-check the legality of votes.

House Republicans argued that identification is already required to drive a car, rent a movie and get on an airplane.

"It is so difficult in this day and age to understand how anyone does not have some form of photo ID or two forms of nonphoto ID," Ms. Denny said. "You cannot get along in this world and not have identification to show who you are."

I remember a time when the Republican Party could credibly claim to oppose this kind of creeping intrusion by the government into people's lives. They used to claim to stand for individuals and for that "right to exist" without having to prove to someone else that you are who you say you are. So much for that, obviously.

But Democrats countered that homeless people, the elderly and first-generation immigrants rarely do those things and yet may still have the right to vote.

"The state's obligation is to ensure that every registered voter is allowed to vote, and no one is allowed to vote more than once," said Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, who worked on MTV's Rock the Vote registration project before he was elected. "Wouldn't you agree that we ought to err on the side of inclusion?"

I can't begin to tell you how upset I am at the passage of this bill. It infringes on a basic and cherished right. It serves no purpose, fills no need, and fixes no problem. The one thing it will absolutely do is ensure that fewer people cast ballots. That's not just wrong, it's un-American. But unless the Senate stops it, it'll be the law in Texas.

In the Pink was there for the early testimony on this stinker. You could see from the beginning that the fix was in. PinkDome asks "Where the hell is voter outrage over this measure?" I'm doing my best, dude. I'm doing my best.

Oh, and by the way, the committee also officially killed HB1348. Quite a nice day's work for Mary Denny, no? Once again, PinkDome is there.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 03, 2005 to That's our Lege | TrackBack

It boggles the mind that anyone can claim that this bill disenfranchises anyone. Show an ID to vote, what an outrageous idea. By your logic, why even have a voter registration card? That infringes on your Constitutional right to vote too. The reason there is no voter outrage is because they have no reason to be outraged because it makes so much sense.

Posted by: snrub on May 3, 2005 9:02 AM

The same committee passed out Pena's paper trail voting bill, HB 166, yesterday is about the best thing you can say. Awfully darn late for it, though.

Hopefully the ID bill will turn out to be another House grotesquery like the Talton foster parent amdt that won't survive in the Senate. You're right that it now needs to be fought vigorously, but don't douse the lights of democracy prematurely - it' not law yet.

Posted by: Scott on May 3, 2005 9:11 AM

Did you even read what I wrote, snrub? We already have to show some form of identification when we vote. In particular, we can show our voter's reg card. What this bill is saying is that showing the voter's reg card isn't enough. There's no justification for that. The purpose of this bill is to make it harder to vote, period.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on May 3, 2005 9:37 AM

Show your voter registration card when you go to vote.


But instead, you want to equate voting to renting a video. This from the same state party that couldn't believe they lost an election and yelled "fraud!" in Hubert Vo's election. Hell, even Republican State Representitive knew that was crazy.

Do you get your credibility from your hypocracy or from your blind arrogance?

Posted by: Red Dog on May 3, 2005 10:22 AM

The process not only disenfranchises the groups mentioned: the checking of ID's will result in long lines that will drive working citizens away.

Posted by: BlueHealer on May 3, 2005 10:53 AM

Because of electronic voting, a recount in close races has become essentially meaningless. Mucking up the system elsewhere ensures that justice remains with those who can afford it.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on May 3, 2005 11:09 AM

Of course I read what you wrote. My point is that by your own logic a voter registration card should not be required to vote since it infringes on your Constituional right. If you agree that the voter registration card is a good idea then the debate is not whether you should be required to show ID, but which form of ID is sufficient. The bill is indeed saying that showing the voter registration card is not enough. You say there is no justification, I say there is. Namely, to maintain the integrity of the voting system by asking people to prove they are who they say they are. Requiring an ID is common sense and the hyperbole being used("dark day for democracy," "poll tax," stealing your Constitutional right) is laughable. Reach into your wallet, pull out your ID, vote. Real tough.

As for Red Dog, try making some sense next time for starters. "Do you get your credibility from your hypocracy or from your blind arrogance?" What does that even mean? After that, consider which ballots were under review in the Vo case and just how little this bill applies. Put some integrity in the sytem up front, less to worry about on the back end.

Posted by: snrub on May 3, 2005 11:42 AM

Lon Burnam sent up what must be a humdinger of a point of order on third reading. They argued about it in a mob in front of the speaker's desk for a bit, then recessed for lunch to sort it out. This sucker could still die an unnatural death.

Posted by: Scott on May 3, 2005 12:17 PM

Republican Party Credibility on Voter Registration/ID:

1) You state party claimed voter fraud in Hubert Vo's election. There was none.

2) "After that, consider which ballots were under review in the Vo case and just how little this bill applies." Then why the hell are you proposing something that only makes it more difficult for people who are registered to vote?

I think it is a good question, do you think you know about voter integrity because you're a Republican and God revealed the truth to you (this is the blind arrogance) or because your own party can't prove there is anything wrong with the system after making wild accusations that something is wrong (hyporacy)?

People who complete the voter registration process and a valid voters should be able to vote. If you can prove to me any, single, solitary instance where there is a problem with people abusing the voter registration system that having an ID at the voting booth would solve, go wtih it.

I reviewed 272 "challenges" by Republicans in Hubert's race and you are right, this proposal would have not affected a signle one.

This is a lame attempt to do something to supposedly help have cleaner elections. Heaven forbid your party leadership would allow a straight vote on a election finance reform bill with 93 co-sponsors.

I still don't know: is it arrogance or hypocracy? Probably both.

Posted by: Red Dog on May 3, 2005 12:53 PM

Sorry, Chuck, I'm with snrub on this one. I agree with you that voting is the most precious right we have as citizens and it is for precisely that reason that a photo ID makes sense. By not taking rudimentary steps to protect the validity of the voting, we cheapen that right. In the state the gave us "Landslide" Lyndon, I don't find this requirement terribly onerous. It's actually a pretty natural extension of the "Motor-Voter Law" if you think about it.

Heck, if we'd would have had these measures in place perhaps we would not have had to endure the Talmedge challenge to Vo.

Likewise, I'm all for a paper trail in voting as long as the anonimity of the voter is retained.

I know this is a Dem point of interest but speaking as a guy fairly close to the polical center, the over the top indignation with which this bill has been treated is much ado about next to nothing...and IMO on the wrong side.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: Patrick on May 3, 2005 1:00 PM

snrub spewed:
" Requiring an ID is common sense and the hyperbole being used("dark day for democracy," "poll tax," stealing your Constitutional right) is laughable. Reach into your wallet, pull out your ID, vote. Real tough."

Yep, tough if you're a senior citizen who no longer drives, or a homeless person, or a disabled person, or one of any number of other groups of citizens who don't have driver's licenses.

Then there's this gem:
"You say there is no justification, I say there is."

Well, then, isn't that some brilliant public debate! How about citing some NEED for this bill? Since it is so obvious to you that this bill is needed, of course you can cite some statistics on voting fraud in Texas?

C'mon, we're waiting.

Posted by: Locutor on May 3, 2005 1:12 PM

To Locutor: read the sentence right after the one you quote me on. That is the tough thing about reading. If you just pick and choose certain parts then it does not really make a lot of sense. Like I could quote you above as saying "this bill is needed," but it does not really convey the point since I've ignored the other words surrounding it. Work on that and get back to me.

To Red Dog:
First, I'm not a Republican, they are way too liberal for me. Second, the point about the Vo case is that if you voted with a stolen voter registration card, then there is no way to unearth the fraud because we accept voter registration card as proof of ID. There is no way to review, which is why I think showing an ID is a long overdue idea. I have no argument with your assertion that people who complete the voter registration process and are eligible to vote should be allowed to do so. The ID just insures that it is actually the person who completed the process. Finally, if you have not looked at the bill, please do so and you will see the laundry list of ID forms accepted in lieu of a state ID or DL.

Posted by: snrub on May 3, 2005 2:26 PM

Please find me one instance of someone using a stolen voter registration card.

Things I have seen stolen and used by theives: credit cards, cars, cash, TVs, VCR, DVD Players, wallets, watches, cell phones, clothing, etc.

Are you seriously saying that there is an epidemic of theives out there stealing voter registration cards and using them? Really? And if you want to throw this "let's add integrity to the process," put your money where your mouth is.

Come to think of it, THERE IS an epidemic of unregulated corporate cash pouring into our state elections. Fix the problems you have (doesn't that make sense?).

Posted by: Red Dog on May 3, 2005 4:38 PM

Looks like it's dead in the Senate, anyway.

Posted by: Brock Batsell on May 3, 2005 5:37 PM

snrub, on being asked to provide some NEED for this bill:

"I got nothin'".

I read just fine, thanks, and it's obvious that you know you have no evidence of need for this bill.

Instead of being an ass, why not develop your ability to marshall evidence to support your arguments?

Work on that and get back to me.

Posted by: Locutor on May 4, 2005 1:38 PM