Voter ID In Da House

Contentious issue could come up in committee "as early as Thursday"

Elections Committee chair Todd Smith: Trying to find middle ground on Voter ID?
Elections Committee chair Todd Smith: Trying to find middle ground on Voter ID?

The voter ID battle could flare back up in the House soon. Yesterday, the Democrats’ point man on the issue, Rafael Anchia of Dallas, told me on the House floor that he expected to see draft language for a possible compromise bill soon, possibly this week.

And this morning, Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, said on his blog to “[l]ook for the House Elections committee to vote on the Voter ID bill as early as Thursday,” although the Capitol web site does not currently show any upcoming meetings for the committee scheduled. But presumably Peña would know, as he’s vice-chair of the committee. (Tip of the hat to The Texas Observer.)

Reportedly, committee chair Todd Smith, R-Euless, has been trying to craft compromise language that would allow the highly contentious issue to get through the almost evenly divided House, where Republicans have a mere two-vote majority among the 150 members. He’ll be testing the resolve of his own party: 50 members of the House Republican Caucus just sent out a press release setting out four guidelines for what a voter ID bill must contain to get their approval.

The release follows:

Statement of Principles on Voter ID We are closely monitoring the Voter ID bill and are fervently committed to advancing a Voter ID bill.

Our principles concerning what the bill must contain are clear, this bill must:

1. Ensure a valid photo identification is needed to vote
2. Take effect at the next possible uniform election date
3. Be free of any registration requirements such as same day voter registration that dilutes the intent of the bill, which is ensuring fair and accurate elections
4. Increase criminal penalties for voter fraud and registration

We are all strongly encouraging Chairman Todd Smith and the other Representatives on the Elections Committee to present a bill which protects the integrity of the electoral process, is fully implemented at the next possible uniform election date and ensures a reasonable period of advanced registration to allow voter registrars the time to protect the integrity of the registration process as well.

Among the signatories to the release: committee members Betty Brown and Linda Harper-Brown. Noticeably, however, the names of two other Republican committee members, Dwayne Bohac and Dennis Bonnen, were absent.

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