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."
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.
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