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Voter ID: Train Wreck Rolling

Dems have little hope of derailment

By Lee Nichols, Fri., March 4, 2011

The solution in search of a problem continues rolling through the Lege. Republicans insist that presentation of a photo ID at the polling place is necessary to prevent voter fraud (specifically, voter impersonation). Dem­ocrats counter that there is little evidence of any voter-impersonation epidemic and that the effort is really about discouraging the votes of women, the elderly, and racial minorities – demographics less likely to possess a photo ID and more likely to vote Dem. After waiving a traditional rule requiring the assent of two-thirds of the Senate to bring a bill to the floor, Republicans easily passed Senate Bill 14 out of that chamber – despite Demo­crats' warnings that the Texas Depart­ment of Transportation can't afford to print up all the free ID cards necessary to prevent voter ID from becoming a de facto poll tax. The bill is now in the House Select Com­mit­tee on Voter Identification and Voter Fraud, which held a public hearing Tuesday. According to Texas politics website the Quorum Report, the committee substitute bill removes Austin Sen. Kirk Watson's amendment requiring that the bill not take effect unless money to provide free IDs is appropriated. Since the GOP holds 101 of the House's 150 seats – enough to muster a quorum on their own – there's not much Dems can do to stop this train.

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