Politics
12:48 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Voter ID Debate Begins in the Texas House

UPDATE, 1:50 p.m.:  A point of order on Voter ID bill has been sustained. The bill is headed back to committee for a clean-up. The language in the bill said "Days"; the bill's analysis said "Business Days," so the bill was sent back to clarify the discrepancy.

EARLIER:  A bill that would require people to have a specific photo ID to be able to vote in Texas has reached the floor of the Texas House. The bill passed the Texas Senate earlier, after the Republican majority modified the Senate rules to allow it to bypass that chamber's so called "2/3rds Rule."

Voter ID was made an emergency item by Governor Rick Perry during this legislative session, allowing early action on the legislation.  The bill on the House floor would require a voter to either use:

  • a DPS issued driver's license or personal identification card
  • A US military ID Card
  • A US citizenship certificate
  • A US passport
  • A DPS issued concealed handgun license

The bill includes a little more than $2 million to spend on TV, radio and print ads to let Texans know that they will need one of those IDs to vote.  And would prohibit the Department of Public Safety from charging someone from getting a valid ID if person says they are getting the ID because of the bill's requirements.

Republicans say Voter ID is necessary because people have lost faith in elections because of concerns over voter fraud.  And that more people will vote in a secure eleciton.

Early debate today has Democrats attacking that voter impersonation, which the voter ID bill addresses, is not a problem in Texas.  Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) says the bill does nothing to address what he calls the actual voter fraud in Texas - mail in ballot fraud.  He also worries the bill will lower voter turnout, specifically among minority and elderly voters he says are less likely to have a photo ID.

The floor debate could take a few hours before a vote.  But Democrats don't have enough votes to keep it from passing.