March 10, 2009
Today's the day for Voter ID in the Senate

Ready or not, here comes the voter ID battle in the Senate. There's a chance today will merely be Day One of this fight, as Patricia Kilday Hart notes in her preview.

Sen. Robert Duncan, who will chair tomorrow's Committee of the Whole on Voter ID, will need to "steer small" during what promises to be a lengthy, acrimonious debate. He told reporters today he hoped the hearing would not last longer than one day, and while he said he believes Senate rules would allow members to cut off debate, but he does not believe such a vote would be necessary.

"The goal is to fully develop the issue to allow the opportunity to make a record," he said. " The key is getting that done in the least disruptive way."

Democrats have promised a protracted hearing to allow opponents of the measure to testify against it, and there's speculation they will draw out the hearing for a week as a delay tactic.

That seems only fitting to me, since after all this is the single most important issue facing Texas today. Oh sure, we could just roll over for the Republicans and get it over in an hour, but surely such a vital issue deserves more deliberation than that. We'll debate the budget a lot longer than an hour, after all, and voter ID is more important than the budget, according to the Republicans. So let's talk it out for as long as it takes. It's not like we have anything more important to do, right?

Here's the Chron story about today's coming attractions. While it has some interesting details about other states' experiences, it omits a couple of important points. One:

"This is about Republicans scaring off just enough eligible elderly, disabled, blacks and Hispanics to stay in power four more years, plain and simple," said Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, of the Republican proposal.

Republican Caucus Chairman Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said the bill is simply about ending voter fraud.

"We know voter impersonation is taking place. It's been well documented. It's going to come out in the hearings," he said.

That's a lie. There's not been a single documented case of voter impersonation in Texas. Attorney General Greg Abbott spent over a million dollars in 2006-07 pursuing voter fraud cases, and none of the charges he brought involved voter impersonation. It's possible Sen. Williams is referring to something more recent than those cases, but if so it'll be something the Democrats are just now being told about, because AG Abbott didn't produce all of the relevant information to their open records request. The bottom line is that Republicans have been making this charge for years, and they've never come close to substantiating it.

Point two is that we are already required to show identification when we vote. It's just that today, your voter registration card is good enough. But because Republicans have been seeing ghosts - more accurately, because they've been seeing too many Democrats show up to vote - they don't want that to be good enough any more. And what happens if the two forms of ID you'll be required to bring to vote don't match exactly - one has a middle initial, or maybe one doesn't reflect a recent name change due to marriage or divorce? There are many possible reasons why a perfectly legal voter might win up being told they won't be able to vote, as Texas Voter Twister shows. All I can say is I hope they build some kind of appeals process into this sucker, because we're gonna need it. BOR, Vince, and Stace have more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 10, 2009 to That's our Lege

The sad thing is the Republicans will probably add a little "saccharine" to make it appear "equitable" including possibly having the state pay for the ID and then of course will make it impossible for most to get the ID.

Texas Republicans. Corrupt and proud of it.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on March 10, 2009 11:23 AM
Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)