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Voter ID 2.0 clears Senate committee

Seems likely this will go the distance.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

A Texas Senate panel cleared legislation Monday that would overhaul the state’s voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that the current law discriminates against black and Latino voters.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-0 to send the legislation to the full chamber.

Filed by Committee Chairwoman Joan Huffman, Senate Bill 5 would add options for Texas voters who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of seven forms of ID currently required at the polls. It would also create harsh criminal penalties for those who falsely claim they need to choose from the expanded list of options.

Huffman’s bill would allow voters older than 70 to cast ballots using expired but otherwise acceptable photo IDs. The bill would also require the Texas secretary of state to create a mobile program for issuing election identification certificates.

“The people of the state of Texas demand integrity at the ballot box,” Huffman said Monday. “I am committed to constitutionally sound voter ID.”

Voting rights advocates call the expanded list of options an improvement over the current embattled law, but have raised concerns over the strict penalties for false claims.


Huffman’s bill would follow that format, allowing voters without photo identification to present documents such as a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck. And election officers could not question the “reasonableness” of the excuse for not having photo ID. But those found to have lied about not possessing photo ID could be charged with a third-degree felony under Huffman’s bill. Such crimes carry penalties of two to 10 years in prison.

Celina Moreno, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, testified Monday that Huffman’s bill was a “major improvement” over the current law. But she pressed lawmakers to remove the felony penalties, calling them “voter intimidation.”

Matthew Simpson, with the ACLU of Texas, suggested that a third-degree felony is often reserved for violent conduct.

See here, here, and here for some background. Let me state up front that voter ID is and will always be hogwash, a non-solution to a non-existent problem whose primary purpose is making it harder for some people to vote. A real fix for voter ID, if we must have voter ID, requires allowing more forms of acceptable ID and ensuring that everyone who is eligible to vote has easy access to at least one form of acceptable ID. This bill doesn’t do that. It does make our existing and now-illegal system of voter ID slightly better, and as such I agree with Moreno and Simpson. If SB5 does pass in this form it won’t surprise me if someone eventually sues over the harshness of the penalties. And if it does pass, even in a form that is much more to my preferences, it does not affect the big question of whether or not the Republicans who passed it in 2011 did so with discriminatory intent. I’d rather see SB5 pass than fail, but my first choice will always be for it to not be needed at all.

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  1. brad m says:

    GOP Texas…Lying Liars on in-person voter ID fraud.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    “Voting rights advocates call the expanded list of options an improvement over the current embattled law, but have raised concerns over the strict penalties for false claims.”

    Concerned about legal penalties for intentionally committing perjury? Is this really what we are fighting about now? Well, maybe that actually makes sense, since we saw James Clapper commit perjury, only to be outed by Snowden’s leaks, and…..nothing happened. Why should the little guy get punished when our leaders do the exact same thing with no consequence.

    Having said that, as I recall, after all the outreach to Texans and money spent on extra man hours and locations to distribute the voter cards, only a couple hundred Texans actually got their free voter card. And of the 16,000 or so people who voted by signing an affidavit, I don’t remember a whole lot of those folks who actually did NOT have an ID. Most were questions about whether they were voting in the right spot, or whether they were properly registered in the first place.

    About the allowance of expired DL’s for the elderly, I’d say that is a good thing.

    Personal story:

    I had an elderly relative that lived in Louisiana. Folks at her local bank pointed out that the relative’s DL was expired, which made sense because that relative quit driving several years back. The bank, doctors, and other businesses all accepted that expired ID so it was never a problem, but I took the relative to the local DMV to get a new one.

    Here’s the surprise: despite a packed lobby, they took my relative within a few minutes, they accepted her old, expired ID as the ONLY form of ID, printed her a new ID card FREE, and made sure to tell us that the word had come down from the governor himself (It was Jindal at the time) that the elderly were to be treated with the utmost respect by the DMV.

    If Louisiana could do this, I don’t see why Texas can’t do it, too, but I’m glad the new bill permits the use of expired ID by the elderly. This kind of situation seems to make much more sense than the scenario where people have lived as adults in Texas, but have never gotten a Texas DL or ID that they would need to get a job, rent an apartment, open a bank account, cash a paycheck, etc.

  3. brad m says:


    You should do stand up comedy.

  4. Neither Here Nor There says:

    Bill you mean like the guy that is president now, who has lied under oath? As soon as his gluteus maximus is in jail all the other intentional liars could follow.