Spears Defends Her Voter ID Position

Incumbent calls Maxey "a blatant liar."

Yesterday, Newsdesk reported that incumbent Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector (and Voter Registrar) Nelda Wells Spears supports the Voter ID requirements that are being pushed hard by Republicans at the Lege and nationwide. She revealed this in a meeting last Friday with The Austin Chronicle's editorial board, and her March 4 primary opponent, former state Rep. Glen Maxey, was quick to attack her as "sid[ing] with Tom Craddick" and the Republicans. Today, on her Web site, Spears defended her position.

Among the highlights: "As he has done throughout this campaign, Glen Maxey misrepresents the truth in order to trick voters into supporting him. … I believe we Democrats must also show voters that we support reasonable safeguards to keep our elections honest. A public servant understands this; a demagogue does not care about election fraud."

Spears, who is African-American, writes, "I resent the suggestion that such a reasonable requirement keeps minorities and seniors from voting. Such patronizing attitudes are improper."

She goes on to say, "I did not say it was a 'great idea' nor did I say it was something 'we needed.'" As for supporting Craddick, she calls Maxey "a blatant liar."

She is correct on the former: I recorded the conversation, and she did not make those exact statements.

However, some Democrats may be puzzled by her application of the term "demagogue" to Maxey on this issue – his arguments against Voter ID line up squarely with the leadership of the party, including the likes of Reps. Rafael Anchia and Jim Dunnam and Sen. John Whitmire, who fought a fierce battle against the requirements at the Capitol last session. (See the previous post for the particulars of why Democrats believe requiring an ID to either register or vote would disenfranchise many poor, minority, elderly, and female voters.)

As for siding with Craddick and the Republicans: I sat through interminable floor fights last year and a day-long committee hearing this year on the subject, and I'm afraid that Spears' comments are almost straight out of the Republican talking points.

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Elections, Election 2008, Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector, Glen Maxey, Nelda Wells Spears

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