Anchia Makes an Overture

Amended version of bill would require both extra ID and substantial voter education and outreach

Rep. Rafael Anchia (center) chatting with Reps. Donna Howard of Austin and Joe Pickett of El Paso on the House floor
Rep. Rafael Anchia (center) chatting with Reps. Donna Howard of Austin and Joe Pickett of El Paso on the House floor (photo by Lee Nichols)

Newsdesk has learned that Dallas Rep. Rafael Anchia on Friday filed an amendment to SB 362, the voter ID bill, that could basically be described as a counter-offer. The amendment would make substantial additions to the bill that, if accepted, could counter the argument that the Democrats are being unreasonably obstructionist on voter ID – and if rejected, could finally flush Republicans out of the bushes of their argument that they only seek election security.

Anchia stressed today that his preference is still to kill voter ID altogether.

The amendment substitutes the entire bill with a revised version that appears to set up a type of government outreach like the what the Carter-Baker Commission outlined as necessary before voter ID could be implemented. While still keeping the original bill’s demand that voters show one form of photo ID or two forms of non-voter ID in addition to their voter registration certificate, the amendment among other things:

• Begins with a statement expressing that the bill must “ensur[e] and enhanc[e]” both the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot and the integrity of the electoral process
• Sets up a bipartisan election commission that would study ways to reduce election fraud, increase voter turnout, improve election practices, and monitor the implementation of changes in the law under SB 362
• Enables same-day voter registration during the early voting period
• Creates a statewide voter education project to explain the new ID requirements. The bill already contains this, but Anchia’s version more specifically requires that it consider “the needs of individuals in each community” and implement a multimedia communications strategy.
• Requires the secretary of state and attorney general to jointly and annually conduct integrity training for election and law enforcement officials around the state in methods of stopping both voter fraud and voter suppression
• Mandates a study on the availability of photo ID and ways to make it more widely available, including merging state photo databases and sending out mobile outreach teams to photograph voters
• Specifically prohibits deceiving people about polling times, locations, and eligibility
• Requires suspected violations of voting rights to be reported by the secretary of state to the attorney general within 48 hours, and make reports to the Legislature
• Requires election officers to explain that voters may vote provisionally, and to provide a form with checkboxes explaining why the voter was not accepted for a regular ballot.
• Calls for a post-election integrity audit.
• Requires the secretary of state to “develop and enact strategies to increase the registration of voters” and the DPS to identify areas of the state with a high rate of registered voters lacking drivers licenses and find ways to provide them with ID

And one of the most notable features: “SECTION 29: The change in law made by this act does not take effect unless the legislature appropriates an amount sufficient to fully implement the change.”

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

81st Legislature, Voter ID, Rafael Anchia

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