March 15, 2007
More on the voter ID bill

Here's the letter (PDF) that Sen. Ellis and others sent to Lt. Gov. Dewhurst regarding voter ID bills. Nothing new information-wise, but as you can see it was signed by all 11 Democratic Senators. It's nice to see such unity on a vital matter like this.

There's also the ominous possibility that it won't matter.

Dewhurst, who presides over the Texas Senate, supports the photo ID requirement, spokesman Mike Wintemute said, and expects the Senate to advance a proposal to Gov. Rick Perry.

The comments surfaced after Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said Wednesday that 10 fellow Senate Democrats have committed to joining him in blocking Senate debate on the photo ID mandate, which opponents call an intimidation tool likely to suppress minority voting. The mandate is opposed by the Texas Democratic Party, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Common Cause of Texas.

Eleven "no" votes would be enough to prevent debate under the Senate's tradition of requiring a two-thirds margin of the 31-member body to bring up proposals, although Dewhurst can bypass the tradition.

Wintemute cautioned against counting Senate votes prematurely: "It's too early in the process to be making assurances about where any senator is."


Rep. Leo Berman of Tyler, chairman of the House Committee on Elections, predicted the House will send the Senate a proposal requiring voters to present a photo ID before voting and also requiring residents to prove their U.S. citizenship before registering to vote.

If Dewhurst wants the identification requirement to pass into law, Berman said, he can suspend the two-thirds' tradition or "twist a few arms."

"What happens over there (in the Senate) is the lieutenant governor's problem," Berman said. Dewhurst, he said, "needs that passed; he wants that passed."

In other words, what really matters is how much David Dewhurst wants to win a Republican primary for Governor. The camel's nose is already inside the tent on that one, so I'm thinking some real old-fashioned filibustering may be needed here. Don't rest easy just yet.

To address a point that came up in the comments of my previous post:

Texas is among 17 states requiring identification but not necessarily a photo ID. Voters may present a voter registration card or a driver's license, Department of Public Safety identification card, birth certificate, passport or official mail sent to the person by name by a governmental agency.

We already do require ID to vote. The point of these bills is to add more requirements, both at registration time (do you make a point of carrying a birth certificate or passport with you?) and at voting time. People who don't have driver's licenses, for instance, will find it more difficult to vote. This is why the main, if not only, purpose of this legislation, which purports to solve a problem that doesn't actually exist, is to make it harder to vote. Which is to say, its purpose is to make it harder for people to exercise their fundamental, Constitutional right to vote. Period.

Now, Inside the Texas Capitol says that in the event such a bill passes, the Department of Justice would be conducting a review to see if it would infringe on the voting rights of minorities. Normally, I'd say that's good news, but given how the fix is in, I wouldn't hold my breath in anticipation of a rescue. This needs to be killed, now and in the future, until sanity and a better Lege reign.

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

Which is to say, its purpose is to make it harder for people to exercise their fundamental, Constitutional right to vote. Period.

Reasonable people can and do disagree on the matter of requiring positive identification at voting locations.

Just because reasonable people disagree with YOUR position, Charles, doesn't mean their intent is to keep anyone who is entitled to vote from voting.

And your adding "Period" to your contentions to the contrary really doesn't serve to make them any less contentious or debatable!

But just for fun -- Exclamation point! :)

Posted by: kevin whited on March 15, 2007 3:42 PM

I was a big fan of voter ID until the federal government declared my mother dead. The reason I've not been heavily involved in the political arena for the last three years is because I've been taking care of my 91 year old mother who is a complete invalid but is very much alive.

I found there was no way of proving her alive. Invalid 91 year olds do not have driver's licenses, passports, employment badges & etc. Since I'm taking care of her in my home she has no bills with her name and address. I can't even get her a birth certificate since she lacks the ID necessary for a notary to verify. Under HB 979 My mother, who is a registered voter in Austin, cannot vote in Texas. Anyone who says all legal voters under this bill can vote doesn't know what they are talking about. And anyone who says that a lack of IDs won't discriminate against otherwise legal minority voters is lying.

Posted by: Royal Masset on March 16, 2007 11:04 AM