Democrats Attack Fraser on Voter ID Bill

Horseshoe Bay Republican can't answer questions on own bill

Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, (left) debates his voter ID bill with Dallas Democrat Royce West.
Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, (left) debates his voter ID bill with Dallas Democrat Royce West. (photo by Lee Nichols)

Debate is underway in the Senate’s “committee of the whole” regarding the Voter ID bill. Democrats are peppering author Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, with questions, which he keeps deflecting by saying that expert witnesses will answer those later. “But it’s your bill,” several Democrats have complained.

Highlights:

• Unlike the bill that shut down the 2009 Legislature before ultimately failing, this bill allows for no forms of ID at the polling place other than photo ID. “Why not allow birth certificates?” asked San Antonio’s Leticia Van de Putte. “This bill requires photo ID,” Fraser replied stolidly.

• Austin’s Kirk Watson questioned the $2 million fiscal note, noting that the bill will allow someone who doesn’t currently have a DPS drivers license to get a state-issued ID card for free, if they state they’ll be getting it for the purpose of voting. “The fiscal note doesn’t include the cost of that, does it?” Watson asked. Watson made several more questions about the bill’s costs, to which Fraser replied “You’re getting outside my area of expertise” and deferred to DPS witnesses that will testify later.

• “Have you ever seen the gallery so empty for something that the Lege has given such high billing?” asked Houston’s John Whitmire, making the case that Texans aren’t really worried about Republican claims of rampant voter fraud that this bill would supposedly deter. Fraser replied that polling shows high support for requiring ID to vote, both in his district and Whitmire’s. “It depends on how you word” the polling questions, Whitmire shot back. “I’m surprised you didn’t get 100% the way you phrased it. ‘Are you against election fraud?’ … We’re all against election fraud. … I don’t govern by poll, and when I explain the implementation of this bill, people have the same concerns as me.”

• Among other government-issued IDs, the bill allows an unexpired, DPS-issued ID – but not an expired one. “How does an expired drivers license fail to identify me?” Fort Worth’s Wendy Davis asked. Fraser’s non-answer: People shouldn’t be driving to the polls with an expired license.

• Also, current law allows a photo ID from another state to be used, but Fraser's bill would disallow that – which presumably could block new arrivals to the state from voting, because they haven't gotten their Texas ID yet. "This bill makes it harder for honest people to vote," Watson told me in the back hallway, "even people with ID that shows who they are."

• Fraser repeatedly deferred questions to Secretary of State Hope Andrade, who is expected to testify later. Very repeatedly. When Sen. Watson saw me snapping a picture of Fraser, he said, "I'd suggest instead of taking a picture of Senator Fraser, you should get one of Hope Andrade."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

82nd Legislature, voter ID

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