March 15, 2007
Voter ID bills appear to be dead for this session

Good news.

Sen. Rodney Ellis has a letter signed by 11 senators saying that they won't vote to bring up a bill that would require a picture ID and proof of citizenship to vote or register to vote - which basically kills the bill.

More here.

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, decried the proposals as attempts at "voter intimidation." Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, said the measures amount to "going after Granny and the disabled," along with people of color.

Supporters of the measures have said more security is needed at the ballot box. Opponents say that's not been proven and more requirements will further drive down voter participation.

Bills pending in the House Elections Committee are HB101, HB218 and HB626.

Ellis released a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst signed by 11 senators who say they'll vote against considering such legislation.

I had hoped to have a copy of this letter to include with this post, but I don't as yet. When I get it, I'll update.

Ellis' press release is here. Given all that we know about the Great Prosecutor Purge and its close ties to voting rights matters, I want to highlight this excerpt from it:

The attempt to weaken voting rights is now a national movement. Twenty five states have either enacted or attempted to pass legislation that would require photo ID to be eligible to vote despite no documented evidence that a voter has voted in any state using false identification.

In late 2005, the Washington Post reported that career attorneys in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division recommended that the federal government reject the state of Georgia's plan to require voters to provide photo identification, but were overridden by political appointees within the department. According to the report, career officials found that the Georgia Voter ID plan would weaken African Americans right to vote. Last month, a U.S. District Court judge blocked implementation of the Georgia Voter ID plan, comparing the law to the poll tax.

"There is overwhelming evidence that the voter ID plan is a solution in search of a problem," said Ellis. "Supporters of this effort continue to throw charges, anecdotal evidence and rhetoric around, but cannot point to one single case of voter impersonation. Those of us opposed, however can cite case after case of voter intimidation and suppression. The same concerns we raised here in Texas were echoed by career justice department officials."

It's all of a piece. I mean hell, even AG Greg Abbott's "crackdown" on alleged fraud was entirely about absentee mail-in ballots, for which no ID requirement has ever been proposed. The fact that it's mostly Republicans (but not the ones Abbott cracked down on) who vote using this method is, of course, merely a coincidence. But when you hear people like Tina Benkiser talk about "voter fraud", this is what she really has in mind.

One last thing:

A handful of legislators stood beside Ellis at the podium, including two members of the committee that heard the bills. Rep. Lon Burnam, a Fort Worth Democrat, called the proposal a "21st Century poll tax," while Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) said he'd checked up on claims of voter impersonation (when a voter misrepresents themselves at a polling place) that were raised in committee by the bills' authors, and found no evidence such a problem existed. When he asked the Secretary of State's office about voter impersonation in the last five years, Anchia said he was told they had not received a single complaint.

Emphasis mine. If this is such a big damn problem that requires fixing, why are there no actual examples of it happening? I think that question answers itself.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 15, 2007 to That's our Lege

Amidst all the hoopla, I can't help but wonder why most people DON'T have a picture id in some form. I know each time I go to my bank, they ask for an id (driver's license in my case) for any fund withdrawls. If I go to vote without my voter's registration card, I am required to show a picture id. So, I'm not sure I understand where this is not working...

Posted by: becky on March 15, 2007 10:47 AM