February 18, 2009
Voter ID already moving in the Senate

I hope you've all enjoyed the relative quiet in the Lege these past few weeks, because it will be coming to an end soon.

The controversial Voter ID bill that triggered a nasty Senate fight last month over a rules change today was referred directly to the full Senate for a vote, setting the stage for new unpleasantness.

Now that it has been referred, Senate Bill 362 could be brought up for consideration as soon as next week, several senators said.


[Tuesday's] referral came without fanfare, one of more than 50 bills that were assigned today to various committees. While mostly symbolic, it could promises to put outnumbered Democrats who oppose it on alert against the Upper Chamber's Republican majority.

Normally, bills are referred to Senate committees for review and approval before they come to the full Senate for debate and a vote. This bill was referred directly to the Committee of the Whole, the full Senate.

The controversial measure by Sens. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, and Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, would require Texas voters to verify their identity before they could cast a ballot.

No immediate word on when the measure will be brought up for Senate debate.

I suppose this is to be expected, given that voter ID is the single most important issue facing Texas today. I realize that the Senate Republicans and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst have done everything they can to stack the deck in their favor on this, but I trust that the Senate Dems still have plenty of fight in them and will take whatever action they think is needed, given that their colleagues see them as little more than nuisances that need to be quelled. We know that the House Dems will do their part. See this video of State Rep. Rafael Anchia, who is on the Elections committee, for the evidence. Todd Hill kindly provided a transcription of the relevant bit:

When I looked at the [committee] assignments on the Elections committee, the speaker didn't really follow through on bi-partisanship in that committee. He didn't even put a veneer of bi-partisanship. Most of the committee's you have a Democratic Chair with a Republican majority-he didn't do that here.

He put a Republican Chair in place and a Republican majority-including people who have voted for the worst kind of voter disenfranchisement Bill in the past.

So that's a place of concern. If you've got a grandparent at home who might be a Korean War veteran, and 85 years old without a driver's license they are going to be required to bring their voter registration card and their driver's license as well. I think that's going to disenfranchise a lot of people.

So if they want to move a partisan disenfranchisement Bill then they're going to have a fight on their hands.

We get can stuff done this session, or we can blow it up over voter ID. That's the choice the Republican leadership has to make.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 18, 2009 to That's our Lege

This has always been "much ado about nothing" since unless I'm mistaken, everyone is supposed to have a photo id in this state issued by DPS that you must present to a law enforcement officer when asked for it. It's the law as they say. Or supposedly it's the law.

I certainly don't support voter suppression but reality is reality and the reality is everyone should have a photo id and so there is a question raised as to why some would prefer that we should be able to vote anywhere we want to vote just by claiming we have the right to vote.

The question of course is whether some would like for people who don't have the right to vote to be able to vote. And the antics of ACORN in the recent election certainly added to the validity of the question.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on February 18, 2009 11:22 AM

Since when is carrying photo ID a requirement to exercise one's rights as an American? Shall I make everyone show me their drivers license before I approve their comments here?

Every objective study shows that a significant portion of the population - usually older people, poor people, and minorities - lack photo ID. The Republicans would be more than happy to make it harder for these folks to vote, since they vote Democratic. It's that simple.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 18, 2009 12:01 PM

Let's just have some truth in advertising. The purpose of the law is not to prevent voter fraud but to prevent votes for democratic candidates.

Posted by: cb on February 18, 2009 12:48 PM

I'm not aware of any law in Texas that requires adults to carry state-issued photo ID at all times. Of course, you are required to have a driver's license in your possession while operating a motor vehicle. Tex. Transp. Code sec. 521.025. Also, it is a misdemeanor offense (a) to fail to give your name, address, and birth date to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested you and requested the information, and (b) to give a false name, address, or birth date to a peace officer who has arrested you, detained you, or requested this information from you on good cause to believe that you witnessed a crime. Tex. Penal Code sec. 38.02. But I don't think you're required to carry ID as a general matter.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on February 18, 2009 4:23 PM

"It's the law as they say. Or supposedly it's the law."

Big difference, Baby Snooks. Either it is or it isn't.

But voting is a right under our constitution, which spells out specific requirements to be able to cast a ballot. And voters can legally be challenged at polling places if someone believes vote fraud exists.

Given the near absence of any real evidence of what Republicans think is a major issue, I'd say our system works just fine as it is.

Posted by: Dennis on February 18, 2009 5:07 PM

"Every objective study shows that a significant portion of the population - usually older people, poor people, and minorities - lack photo ID. The Republicans would be more than happy to make it harder for these folks to vote, since they vote Democratic. It's that simple."

I don't deny that the Republicans want to make it difficult for people to vote as indicated by the mess with DPS and the "required documents" to obtain a driver's license/photo id and of course the new legislation, expected to pass, will end up in he courts. Which seems to be a reflection of the mess in Austin of late - the legislature passes bills which the governor signs into law and which are contested in the courts before he puts the pen down. Which costs us in the end to have the state defend what it is really bad law in many cases even if it's occasionally constitutional.

As for all of these people who cannot afford to obtain a photo id, most obviously have to cash their checks at the friendly corner check-cashing center which takes as much as 10% of their money since they can't open a bank account or cash a check at a bank simply because they have no valid photo id - it would make more sense to address that problem which would allow the 10% from their checks to pay for the photo id. But of course the lobbyists for the crooks, in this case the friendly neighborhood check-cashing center, have always prevailed in Austin so the poor will continue to be ripped off. Simply because they do not have a photo id.

And while the Republicans don't want them to have one for the obvious reason that if they can require photo id to vote, the Democrats really haven't addressed one of the major reasons why they can't afford one.

As for whether you have to carry an id under the law in this state it really is a moot point although I was told you do and you risk being arrested in the "wrong circumstances" if you don't have one and law enforcement can't confirm you are who you say you are.

As for the problem with Republicans, the best solution is to keep voting them out of office. Along with the Democrats who "work well with Repubicans."

Posted by: Baby Snooks on February 19, 2009 8:01 AM

You do not have the right to vote if you are not an United States Citizen...... Proof of Citizenship should be provided to every citizen without cost, such as social security cards, etc. If you do not have this proof then you cannot vote. Maybe it should take more ID to register to vote. Voter Registration Cards could have pictures on them. If you are poor then walk yourself down there with your birth certificate or equivalent (or do the poor not have these either.)if you want to vote. I have never been rich and I have been what most consider poor, but I have always been able to prove my citizenship.

Posted by: Mike on March 11, 2009 10:34 AM

Mike - Lots of folks in Texas don't have birth certificates. If you were born at home, as many older and rural folks were, you generally lack this document. It's a problem for other things, too.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on March 11, 2009 10:41 AM
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