March 10, 2009
Voter ID: All through the night

According to Elise Hu's liveblog of the voter ID hearing in the Senate, they're on witness number 3 of 15, and they haven't gotten to any public testimony yet. Suffice it to say, this is gonna go on for awhile, almost certainly into tomorrow and possibly beyond. Which as I've said is only appropriate for the single most important issue facing Texas today.

Lots of people have been following this all day and giving blow-by-blow accounts. Twitter has been a great resource, if you follow folks like Elise, Gardner Selby, and Texas Monthly, among others. If you prefer the bloggy route, Phil, Vince, Patricia Kilday Hart, the tag team of Jenny Hoff and Karen Brooks, and the Observer have been on the case.

Speaking of the latter, the Observer reports on a possible compromise bill.

Last week, Democratic Rep. Chuck Hopson filed an attempt at a compromise on Voter ID in the form of House Bill 2513. The bill requires the secretary of state to coordinate with the Department of Public Safety and other state agencies to obtain photographs that would be placed on individuals' voter registration certificates, which voters have to present at the polls.

"HB 2513 would not place the burden of obtaining photos for registration cards on voters and includes an affidavit provision that minimizes concerns over voter suppression," says Dustin Rynders, a policy specialist and attorney for Advocacy, Inc., a federally funded statewide advocacy group for the disabled.

Still, many advocates feel that even Hopson's diluted version of Voter ID is not as good as no Voter ID at all.

"Moves toward photo identification in any form are, at best, unnecessary," says Rynders, who is at the Capitol today to testify in opposition to the Senate's Voter ID bill. "The main consideration is whether the bill is the best use of limited state resources. Once investigated, most election irregularities are found to be related to poll worker error, so the state could instead consider using resources to provide more robust poll worker training."

I agree with Rynders, but in the likely event that something gets passed, this along with same day voter registration would lessen the sting considerably. At the very least, putting the cost of this folly on the state and not on the individual would be something. Not much, but not nothing. That's assuming the Republicans actually want to do something other than cram their best shot at a voter suppression bill down the Democrats' throats. Given that they've called upon hacks and shysters like Hans van Spakovsky, who among many other things helped railroad the 2003 re-redistricting through the Justice Department over the objections of the career lawyers, I wouldn't count on that.

Still, as things stand now the Senate bill won't pass the House but could stir things up considerably. Whenever we do get to the end of today's hijinx, we're nowhere near the finish line for this fight.

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