Voter ID

Photo courtesy flickr.com/texasgovernor

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has refused to clear Texas’ voter ID requirements, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011.

The state and the DOJ have been at odds over the issue for months, with the feds requesting additional information to ascertain whether the law would have a disproportionate impact on minority citizens.

Texas is one of the Southern states covered under the Voting Rights Act; Section 5 of the act requires the DOJ to “pre-clear” any electoral changes states make that might impact minority voters.

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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Justice, seeking to enforce a controversial voter ID requirement passed by the Texas Legislature.

Passed in 2011, the law requires most voters to show a photo ID verifying their identity before they can cast a ballot. Proponents of the measure claim it’s required to clamp down on voter fraud. But critics counter instances of voter fraud are relatively rare, and moreover, the parties most likely affected – minorities, the young, and poorer citizens – often support Democratic candidates over Republican ones.

Photo by KUT

A law requiring voters in Texas to show photo identification before casting a ballot is being challenged by several civil rights groups. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Advancement Project and others sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department this morning, saying the law will have a discriminatory effect on minorities.

“These proposed changes -- both in the process and in the types of acceptable identification -- are unjustified and are unlawful under the Voting Rights Act,” the letter states.

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After years of Republican attempts and procedural blocks by Democrats, a voter ID bill has passed the Texas House and Senate.  The bill passed the House on 3rd reading today on a 101-48 vote.  Today's debate and vote took just minutes, compared to the 11 hours the House spent debating amendments Wednesday.  The bill now goes back to the Senate.  That chamber can either agree with the House changes to the bill or ask for a conference committee to work out the differences.

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The Texas House Passes Voter ID

After more than 11 hours of debate, the Texas House gave initial approval to a voter ID bill last night.  It would require Texans to show a photo ID before casting a ballot at the polls.  Democrats used a variety of parliamentary procedures to delay the bill but didn't have the votes to stop it.  Democratic lawmakers say it would disenfranchise minority and elderly voters.  Republicans say it would protect the integrity of the voting system by preventing voter fraud. 

picture by KUT

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.

Photo by KUT News

Senate Approves Voter ID

The Texas Senate passed controversial voter ID legislation last night. The Senate speedily passed the bill that Democrats had blocked in previous sessions.   As expected, the vote came down along party lines. 

Senate Committee OKs Voter ID

For the third consecutive session, Texas GOP members are trying to get a Voter ID bill through the Senate. A Committee of the Whole Tuesday voted in favor of the bill, which would require voters to show photo ID, such as a driver’s license, military ID, personal ID card, or passport, before voting.

Photo by KUT News.

Photo by Chris Kosho/KUT.

Gov. Rick Perry has declared two more emergency items for the 2011 legislative session. The new emergency items include legislation that would require voters to show identification at the ballot box, and a bill calling for a new balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and the integrity of the ballot box are critical to the people of Texas,”  Perry said in a press release today.  “Under this emergency declaration, Texas lawmakers will be able to address these priority issues more quickly.”

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