Spears Clarifies Voter ID Position, Points Out Maxey Error

Incumbent accuses challenger of lying

In a campaign e-mail today, incumbent Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector Nelda Wells Spears accused her Democratic primary challenger, former state Rep. Glen Maxey, of trying to confuse voters about her position on Voter ID requirements.

In the e-mail, Spears says Maxey is trying to blur the distinction between the last legislative session's HB 218 (which would have required registered voters to present ID at the polls in addition to their registration card) and HB 626 (which would have required people to present some form of ID at the time of registration, so as to prove their citizenship).

She has a point: When Maxey attacked her position on his Web site, he wrote, "… Texas Senate Democrats heroically fought HB 626 including State Senator Mario Gallegos who was wheeled in on a hospital bed against doctor’s orders to cast the deciding vote blocking the bill."

Actually, that's not accurate: Gallegos risked his health to vote against 218. HB 626 never even made it to the Senate floor, quietly dying in committee after 218 failed.

"Contrary to my opponent's repeated lies," Spears writes, "I have never endorsed the Republican bill that was courageously defeated in the Texas Senate by Sen. Mario Gallegos and other Democrats."

Spears' campaign treasurer, former county judge (and her predecessor in the tax office) Bill Aleshire noted that Spears only supported the very final version of the bill, which allowed registrants to just sign an affidavit declaring their citizenship if they didn't have proper ID. Without that, he says, Spears never would have supported the bill.

Of course that still puts Spears at odds with the Texas Democratic Party generally, which fought even the final version of 626.

Here is the relevant text of Spears' e-mail:

VOTER ALERT!
DON'T BELIEVE MY OPPONENT'S LATEST ATTACK!
VOTER ALERT!

My opponent is once again distorting the issues in an apparent effort to trick you into voting for him. This time, he is intentionally conflating a bill heard in the Texas Legislature requiring citizens to show some form of proof of citizenship (even just an affidavit) upon registering to vote and a different bill that would also have required registered voters to show a photo ID in the polling place at the time they cast their ballots.

My opponent apparently has no shame. Having citizens show some kind of evidence of their citizenship at the time they register to vote makes sense, which is what HB 626 was about. This is a reasonable safeguard that protects legitimate voters from having their voice diluted by those who might not be legitimately registered. But this is much different than HB 218, which would have required voters who have already met the I.D. requirement upon registering from having to do so again at the polling place, when a valid voter registration card or other form of accepted identification should be sufficient.

Contrary to my opponent's repeated lies, I have never endorsed the Republican bill that was courageously defeated in the Texas Senate by Sen. Mario Gallegos and other Democrats.

THE SIMPLE TRUTH
Let me put this clearly in a way my friends can't misunderstand and even my opponent can't misrepresent: Proof of citizenship at the time a person registers to vote is a common-sense safeguard. Requiring photo identification at the time a citizen walks into the polls with his or her voter registration card to cast a ballot is unacceptable.

This is the simple truth: I have and will defend every citizen's right to vote at all times. Every bill, every practice, every recommendation will be evaluated with a keen eye to protecting the right to vote for every citizen.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

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

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