Voter ID

The Fight Continues

Voter ID
Illustration by Jason Stout

If voter ID dies, it won't do so quietly.

Democrats contend that the GOP pet project – which would require voters to present photo identification in addition to their voter registration certificates at the polls – would do little to prevent voter fraud but would block many elderly, poor, minority, and/or female citizens (read: mostly Democrats) from casting ballots. Republicans in the Senate delayed arguably more important business – e.g., education, unemployment, and health care – for several days at the beginning of the session, including one all-nighter, in order to debate this nonissue.

But Senate Bill 362 by Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, finally passed after a nasty partisan battle in the GOP-dominated chamber. Its prospects in the almost evenly divided House are less certain, where Republicans hold only a two-vote majority out of 150 seats.

The bill sits still in the House Elections Committee, where Chair Todd Smith, R-Bedford, says he hopes to craft a new version that moderate Democrats and Republicans can swallow. The effort isn't going well – 71 members of his own party dug in their heels even before he circulated draft language, declaring that any bill must allow no exceptions to presentation of a photo ID (which Fraser's bill allows) and take effect at the "next possible election" (Smith originally wanted to wait until 2013, but he has now backed down to a two-year implementation). But that latter point upsets Dallas' Rafael Anchía, the Democrats' point man on the issue: "To implement such a major change," Anchía says, "you need more than two years."

Other Smith changes also weren't enough to mollify Anchía. Despite a Smith stipulation for $7.5 million toward voter-registration efforts, "a one-time expenditure ... doesn't make up for disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Texans." However, Anchía said: "I don't think the bill is fatally flawed. It can be improved."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

81st Legislature, voter ID, Troy Fraser, Rafael Anchía, Todd Smith

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