A Peek at the Rancorous Fight Over the Voter ID Bill, Which Passed the Texas House Last Night

Categories: News, Politics


Above is a few minutes' worth of the lengthy back-and-forth that took place down in Austin yesterday (and last night), as D's and R's fought over SB 14 -- which, of course, demands that a voter present photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot. Among the most vocal opponents of the legislation was state Rep. Rafael Anchía, who'd managed to delay the inevitable earlier this week by asking for a clarification about the bill's details and said, "My fear is that this bill is not going to increase the integrity of elections, but instead is going to keep legitimately eligible Texans from the polls."

Yesterday the Dallas Democrat tried to derail the bill by insisting one of its provisions -- that anyone who wants a Texas-issued ID card can get one for free -- will drain as much as $14 million from the Texas Mobility Fund during the the next biennium. Said Anchía in a last-ditch statement, "Think of all the revenue that's going to be lost when people figure out that they can get the state ID for free instead of paying $16. Why would anyone spend $16 when they can get their state ID for free? This is money that's supposed to be used for building roads, and raiding the fund is a clear violation of ARTICLE III(49-k)(f) of the Texas Constitution." That didn't fly -- the bill passed 101-48, with the D's coming out L's.
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Guest
Guest

It is kind of funny that legislators cast votes for other legislators yesterday during the votes for this very bill (it's blatantly against Texas House rules to vote for other members).

Committing voter fraud to pass a voter fraud bill really shows what kind of people we have down there in Austin.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Bryan (a/k/a Uppercase Matt) --

I did not make your point. In fact, if you read my original posts, you'd see that. Whatever.

I would have replied but couldn't, so here's another post. SB 14 had nothing whatsover to do with correcting ballot issues with absentee ballots. In fact, numerous bills addressing just that problem have been filed in both the Senate and the House Select Committee on Elections, but have been tabled and will never see the light of day. Republicans don't care about absentee ballot problems. They like absentee ballots. Lots of old white people who vote for them like absentee ballots.

I too think absentee ballot requirement are too lax and subject to manipulation. But if we were just concerned with good public policy this session we wouldn't get anything passed (i.e., Perry's list of alleged emergencies).

Uppercase Matt
Uppercase Matt

My name's Matt, not Bryan. I don't even know who you're referring to, since there's not a Brian on this page. I used to just call myself Matt, as opposed to the awesome lowercase matt that spends a lot of time over on the Park Cities blog, but then a bunch of other Matts started showing up, so I went with Uppercase Matt.

At any rate, what I said was that this bill -- establishing the requirement for voter ID for in-person voting -- is likely setting the stage for better ID requirements for absentee balloting, not that this bill is intended to address that issue. Many Republicans care very much about absentee balloting, and in particular those that are "harvested" in the poor and elderly communities. The great majority of the old white people actually show up to early vote as opposed to voting by mail -- which is exactly why they make it easier to early vote every time they convene.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Easy answer. I clicked on your icon and it came up Bryan. Try it yourself. And there is absolutely nothing to support your theory that this bad bill is "likely setting the stage for better ID requirements...." And I suggest you check the absentee ballot final numbers at the Ballot Board after election day.

Uppercase Matt
Uppercase Matt

OK, I have no idea why it pops up "Bryan", but it sure does. Not something I ever entered.

If you look, for example, at the Dallas County results for the last Governor election, you'll see that there were around 20K by-mail votes, and 197K early in-person votes. Those aren't broken down by voter age, but based on the number of pollbooks I've stamped in the last 20 years (where ages are apparent), I'll assure you that's a typical ratio for older folks as well as the general population.

But I would love to hear your exposition on USSC jurisprudence -- it's been a long time since Con Law.

Meh.
Meh.

Considering you have to have a photo ID to do numerous things that are free (getting a library card, picking up a certified letter, etc.), I'm astounded that there are folks who DON'T have a photo ID. But I'll take a previous poster's comment about the elderly not having a photo ID into consideration.I don't believe that this is really about voter fraud, though. I think there's a portion of folks in this state who Perry would like to keep away from the polls. It's interesting that it's coming to light this way; in other states I've lived in, you had to show your ID to vote, and we all seemed to deal with it quite well.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

If you truly want to prevent what little voter fraud is actually occuring, mail-in ballots should have to include a copy of a photo ID.

Diana Powe
Diana Powe

The entire notion of voting fraud is abject nonsense. No one who was genuinely trying to affect an election outcome would bother.

Assume that you're an utterly corrupt candidate who wants to win at all costs and you're running in a local election where the fewest number of fraudulently-cast votes have the largest impact. You examine voting patterns in your race and see that the average difference in 150 votes between the winner and the nearest loser. Do you really think it's smart to conspire with someone to commit 150 violations of Texas Election Code Section 64.012 where each fraudulent vote is a third degree felony? This is especially true given that it means that you, as the candidate for this "powerful" local office, are the big fish with many smaller fish around who can potentially put you in prison by blabbing about their illegal voting.

It's much less risky and more potentially effective if you're this corrupt candidate to solicit tainted money.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

One more interesting little fact about the bill -- if your voter registration card is issued in a name that varies even slightly with the name on the driver's license, the election judge has the discretion to make that person "submit an affidavit stating taht he or she was the person on the list before being allowed to vote." In essence, a picture ID and Voter Reg. card isn't enough. The election judge can make you jump through even more hoops. And I'm sure there are precincts in some parts of Dallas (i.e., where elderly and minority voters tend to live) that will use this little extra tool.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

I know a lot of my neighbors, and a lot of my neighbors work at the polling places during elections. When I vote, it goes something like this:

"Hi Thel !"

"Hi Betty, how are the kids?"

"Fine, fine. Little Jimmy's just growin' like a weed. Yours?"

"Sophie's crawling now, she'll be walking any day."

"That's great Thel, here's your ballot!"

No voter registration card, no photo ID. Betty knows me and looks me up on the rolls, been that way for years now.

(names have been changed to protect the honest)

JJ in Dallas
JJ in Dallas

Ok, so we're supposed to believe there's a horde of non-citizen aliens who are so afraid of detection that they don't get social security cards, bank accounts, or file taxes, yet they go out and vote? And there are hundreds, even THOUSANDS of people voting twice, even DOZENS of times? Call me rational, but logic tells me there will be far and away more legitimate voters disenfranchised because they didn't bring or don't have a photo ID than there are these phantom voters. Many people walk to their polling place, so they wouldn't need their driver's license with them.

Even Republicans won't waste time sending out illegitimate voters. They way they sway elections is by passing laws exactly like this, selective scrubbing of voter rolls (see Florida), and intimidating at the polls. Getting out their vote isn't enough for them. They have to throw up walls to block the other side.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

"Ok, so we're supposed to believe there's a horde of non-citizen aliens who are so afraid of detection that they don't get social security cards, bank accounts, or file taxes, yet they go out and vote? "

I'm sure the hordes of non-citizen aliens who are so afraid of detection will have no issues with applying for a state-issued photo ID...

Sybil
Sybil

Even though I already possess a valid Texas driver's license that I presume will satisfy the "voter id" requirements, I will most definitely apply for that free id card. Last time I checked poll taxes were unconstitutional, or did the Supremes change that?

Jd
Jd

I wish we did not have to prove residency for my homeowners association. They would not allow residents of the near by subdivisioin to vote. Imagine that!

Montemalone
Montemalone

OK. What is the point of registering to vote in the first place and having to show the voter registration card and have your name checked off the list before being allowed to vote?It's obvious that this is intended to deter low income and non-white voters, voters who have already registered but may not have IDs, for whatever reason. Just so happens a lot of that group tend to vote for Dems.I hope it creates a backlash and encourages voter registration/State ID drives to increase turnout and turnout the repubs that have ruined this state.

EDM
EDM

The Voter ID bill alters the procedure for voting and a voter registration card will no longer need to be shown. Your approved photo ID will be checked against the precinct voter registration list.

While a grass-roots drive to get an approved ID for everyone who votes would be great, remember that Dallas has one DPS office authorised to issue these IDs and Houston has no such office inside loop 610.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

This is a bad solution in search of a non-existent problem. First, even if there was ANY evidence of impersonation voting, which there is not, it would take numerous -- even hundreds or thousands of people acting in a coordinated effort to influence an election. And what would be the motive of those people? Exactly what would they get? That alleged crime is already a felony. Why would I or any other person risk going to jail for a crime for which I have no motive nor possibility of gain? It's a totally irrational argument mascarading as a public policy issue. That, my friends, is what gives you bad law.

Second point of absurdity -- every bill has a fiscal note, i.e., impact on the state budget. This one has a fiscal note of a bit over $2 Million in the next 2 years (although that is now I believe is inaccurate because Rep. Bonnen (R) successfully amended the bill to delete the over 70 exemption. In other words, in a budget cycle where we are gutting public and higher ed, laying off over 8,000 state workers, and gutting indigent health care, we are throwning away dollars on a problem that doesn't exist. The floor argument over the cost was so stupid I was getting text messages from staffers in the gallery with nothing more than ????XX!!! Rational people were literally pulling their hair out. I don't know how Rep. Anchia got through it without turning a desk over. That man deserves a medal.

And for all of you who argue that you have to show ID to get on a plane, yada, yada, yada, let me remind you that flying is not a Constitutional right. Nor is the use of a credit car.

This is nothing more than political bullshit.

Russp
Russp

Bearing arms IS a constitutional right yet I have to take a 10 hour course at a cost of $120 and then pay the state another $140 for the piece of paper that says I can now excersize that right. What's a photo ID from the state cost, $10?

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Well, I'm not going to take the time to outline over 100 years of U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence to you, but I will again tell you the state controls the right to carry a concealed weapon on your person, for which right they can charge you $260. You do not have a direct Constitutional right (as determined by Supreme Court jurisprudence) to carry a concealed handgun in your pants pocket. The State of Texas has determined to license you that right.

Again, all of that is different in Supreme Court jurisprudence from requiring you to pay money to vote. That has it's own line of cases. Don't mean to sound demeaning but your pocket dictionary does not make you a Constitutional expert.

EDM
EDM

A DPS ID for voting will be available at no cost. To charge anything for the ID would amount to a poll tax and render the law unconstitutional. Note that a DPS ID for any other purpose will still require the $16 fee be paid.

The Voter ID bill defines and limits what can be used as acceptable ID for voter identification. Utility bills will not be an acceptable form of ID.

Russp
Russp

Your nit picking of legal and government technicalities aside; legislatures in about two dozen states have enacted voter ID bills and the courts have not over turned them so why should it not be allowed to follow the same procedure in Texas? If the IDs are free, will that make it OK by not being interpreted as a poll tax? The over riding idea I think most people supporting this bill are trying to express is why should anyone be against everyone, black, white, brown, rich or poor, showning anID to prove they are the person listed as a registered voter.

Diana Powe
Diana Powe

The jurisprudence on what a right to "bear arms" has been going on for almost a century and its long been clear that states may place restrictions on that. Prior to the concealed handgun licensing law you allude being enacted by the Legislature in 1997, Texas had one of the most restrictive laws regarding being off your own property with a firearm in the nation. The jurisprudence on barriers to voting has been just as clearly against this sort of Republican tactic.

Uppercase matt
Uppercase matt

Thanks, Brenda. You're making excellent points about how the state can legitimately put restrictions on individuals exercising their right to vote.

There's probably not a lot of fraud in in-person voting. Most people vote with their driver's licenses anyway, most of the rest with their registration cards, and a very few with an alternate "ID" such as a utility bill. I've served as an election judge many times, and I only recall one time where I know the wrong person cast a vote -- and he used a picture ID. (Unregistered son with the same name and address as his father early voted -- registered father was not happy when he showed up on election day and had to cast a provisional ballot because his name was already marked as "voted" in the pollbook.) I suppose some of the people with non-photo identifications could have been fraudulent, and we'd never know since they didn't have to produce a photo ID, but you'd think that the "real" voter would have shown up and complained in that case.

Then again, while the precincts I've served were majority white, I've NEVER had someone come in that couldn't produce a picture ID if needed. Usually, the most common problem is someone wanting to vote in a precinct they moved out of sometime in the past ("But I've always voted here!").

I think there is a lot of fraud in absentee balloting in some precincts. I think the likely real motive for a votor ID bill is not to eliminate minimal in-person fraudulent voting, but to set the stage for better controls on absentee voting. I think Thelisma's suggestion above of needing a copy of a photo ID with an absentee ballot is a good direction to go, if we don't move straight to biometrics -- e.g. needing thumbprints on the ballot return envelope both from the voter and any individuals that make the rounds to collect those envelopes.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Russp -- it's not "state jurisprudence" charging $10 to vote. It's the Texas Legislature. That's part of the Executive Branch of Government. You might consider a seminar on the various branches of government.

Russp
Russp

And now we have that same state jurisprudence deciding voters need to have a $10 identification card, shouldn't be such an issue except to those looking to place a vote illegally.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Russp -- you are talking about carrying a concealed weapon on your person. That's not a Constitutional right. Owning the gun is. And buying the gun is an act of commerce.

Russp
Russp

Pretty sure the right to bear arms means to carry, not just own. As the dictionary says, "to hold, carry or transport place to place".

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

In today's world of the "LOOK WHAT WE DID " Score boarding .Folks can actually see a election Promise that was kept.The day was won for them.As for the cutting of workers and gutting of budgets That's is what the majority were sent to do and it is getting done.We will know the true results Once the process of budget cutting is over and the governor gives it his OKAY .

It will be interesting to see the reactions as folks find out what really happened during the session.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Since there is a price to be paid for this legislation (an actual monetary price, not just the more abstract kind), as you pointed out, and since the state is basically broke already, paying for it can only be either through higher taxes or people losing their jobs. I wonder how many people who support this legislation would be willing to pony up an additional tax to pay for it, or would support it if their wife or husband was one of the people being laid off. Not many, I'm guessing.

Phony laws to solve phony problems are great as long as they only affect other people.

Guest
Guest

This Legislature doesn't care about increasing costs while cutting teachers and whatnot.

Legislators have filed 106 bills increasing existing penalties, 88 bills creating new felonies, and 114 creating new Class A/B misdemeanors, for a total of 308 bills proposing new crimes or penalty increases.

Did you ever think that there were 202 things going on in this state that aren't currently against the law but should be?

Don't you think that, even though the Legislative Budget Board scored these new crimes and enhancements as costing $0 that it might cost some money for a police officer to arrest people for these new crimes, for prosecutors to prosecute them in courts, and for jails and prison space to hold these new criminals?

But they put forth 308 bills to increase criminal justice costs across the state knowing that the state and local governments are having to cut billions to balance their budgets.

That says to me that they don't care about increasing costs (and proposing to eliminate things like funding for DWI supervision). They just want to make whatever political statement that these various bills put forth.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Perry wil probably fire people in DPS that process ID applications.

Guest
Guest

Thank God this non-emergency emergency legislation has been taken care of. The Non-crisis crisis is over.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Now, on to women's reproductive rights and protecting the sanctity of divorce from out of state homosexual marriages.

Steve
Steve

Oh, i'm sure people like you will keep fighting to make sure that all these non-existent people who will somehow now be dis-enfranchised even though they don't exist will someday be able to vote again without id, even though they don't exist.

Guest
Guest

I'm not fighting anything (couldn't care less about the actual legislation), but this legislation was not an emergency, even though Governor Perry officially designated it as one (while, at the same time, he's done everything he can to keep updated science out of Texas courtrooms and worked to keep police departments from using best practices to prevent mistaken identification, which has resulted in violent criminals going free).

Given that there's not even a major election before the end of the legislative session, declaring voter I.D. an "emergency" was unnecessary.

Guest
Guest

RE: Steve

1. Never said that.

2. This bill doesn't necessarily do that.

3. Even if this bill is 100% successful in preventing the miniscule amount of voter fraud that's been discovered, it still wasn't an emergency.

4. An emergency is something that's so important that if it doesn't get done RIGHT AWAY, things will spiral out of control.

5. Requiring voters to produce identification for elections that won't happen for MONTHS is, by definition, not an emergency.

6. Don't call 911 and ask directions. It's for EMERGENCIES only. If I point out that your needing directions, even though it's important that you get where you need to be, is not an EMERGENCY, it doesn't mean that I don't think you should get to where you're going.

7. It means you need to learn what an EMERGENCY is.

Steve
Steve

Yeah, you're right, making sure that people who vote are, you know, actually eligible to vote isn't important.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Nothing on Perry's "emergency" list was an actual "emergency." So clearly emergency is not the standard.

GAA
GAA

Texas Democrats are under attack by sore losers who know that there are more poor people than rich people. Kudos to Rafael Anchia for standing up for the people. Power to the people!

Jasonkiddmostdefinitely
Jasonkiddmostdefinitely

Why is it so horrible to ask that we make sure the people that are voting are who they say they are? Doesn't everyone need/have some form of id? How do you buy alcohol or tobacco, drive, get a bat at a batting cage, prove the credit card you're using is your own, fly, etc... Point being, there are numerous avenues where id is needed. Saying it's trying to weed out the poor is a red herring. Something as important as voting should have some check other than "he said his name is x and could give his address- here you go, shape our future..."

Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

Are you seriously comparing consumption to voting? Furthermore, do we really need the polling locations acting like the airline industry?

Hope you enjoy taking off your shoes and voluntary pat downs just to vote. After all, id isn't enough to get on a plane...

Steve
Steve

I know what you mean, why, just the other day i was at the beer store and they asked me for some identification so i showed them my drivers license and they said, no, we need to see your feet.

Montemalone
Montemalone

There's old folks, non-drivers, women, that spent their lives in the home. Their husbands put everything in their names, paid the bills, etc. The people from "the other side of the tracks" in small town Texas, the ones that didn't get much education and live subsistence level lives without going to the batting cages, don't own cars, don't have credit, pay cash for everything.

Jasonkiddmostdefinitely
Jasonkiddmostdefinitely

so how big of a voting population are we talking about that is shielded from the rest of the world due to oppressive husbands? We're worried about voter fraud that people say is zilch or a tiny amount but worried about all these cash only people with no education whose husbands keep them repressed? Do we think the repressive husbands that don't let them drive or have any control are going to push them to make sure you vote today honey?? How can we argue there's no risk of voter fraud but argue there's a large population of eligible voters that would be disenfranchised because they live off the grid or have mean husbands that don't let them do anything (but vote when necessary because they want to make sure they're exercising their 1 man 1 vote right).... Go Mavericks, most definitely... don't rain on my parade...

Ic3ix
Ic3ix

"Something as important as voting should have some check ..."

Too bad those checks do not extend to the electronic voting machines used by the state of Texas.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

"Why is it so horrible to ask that we make sure the people that are voting are who they say they are?"

Because its not a real problem.

We don't have enough to do in Texas that we need to be spending time and money solving problems we don't really have?

Is anyone proposing a law that says you can't walk your diseased dog on an indoor ice skating rink? Why not? Who wants to skate on a rink with diseased dogs on it?!

Any time anyone works so hard to solve a problem that doesn't exist, you have to ask yourself what the real purpose is.

Steve
Steve

Last time i voted there was someone at the polling place to translate for spanish only speakers, if we can spend the time and money for translators we can spend the time and money to check id's.

Diana Powe
Diana Powe

Yes, I'm a retired police officer. However, there's no comparison here. A general-purpose tax like the tax on sales that largely funds municipalities and, by extension, police services deployed against the daily and well-documented problems police operate to ameliorate is nothing at all like adding a burden to exercising an individual right to vote. That's especially true given that the Republican-imposed burden is supposedly "solving" a problem that has never been shown to exist in any meaningful way (as in changing the outcome of an election).

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

So... you're saying that its prudent for the state to spend the money we don't have on a problem that doesn't exist because it might exist someday and we'll be ready for it if it does? Obviously, youre just reflexively defending this bill. Your logic is becoming increasingly gymnastic. Have you given any actual thought to why this bill is important? Do you have any real evidence that any real voter fraud exists?

Steve
Steve

You're an ex-police officer right Diana? Then explain why people who haven't needed the services of a police officer for, oh, let's say a decade or more should still be required to pay into your salary with their taxes? After all, as far as they're concerned they're paying for something they don't need which is your argument against this legislation.

Diana Powe
Diana Powe

Yeah, you're right. It's always important for the Republicans in the Texas Legislature to "solve" problems that don't exist when they're facing a catastrophic budget deficit. Feel free to explain in detail the actual mechanism in which a candidate for office would actually employ a scheme of fraudulent voting. I've already previously explained how such a plan would easily blow up in their face.

Perhaps, as previously suggested, the Republicans in Austin should jump right into crafting emergency legislation to keep people from walking their diseased dogs in ice skating rinks.

Steve
Steve

Yeah, you're right, we should be using tax dollars for important things like keeping the grass in the medians trimmed and making sure the libraries can stay open a few extra hours a week, not for ridiculous stuff like making sure those voting are actually eligible to do so. I mean really, people need to get their priorities straight.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

"'m anxious to know why you're so against providing id's to vote when you assure us there is no problem."

You just answered your own question.Why are we spending money we don't have and running the risk of excluding legitimate voters if there's not a voter fraud problem? How much money are you in favor of spending on other problems we don't have? If you do believe we have a voter fraud problem, then I'm completely in favor of stopping it. But I'd like to see that evidence first.

Steve
Steve

I'm anxious to know why you're so against providing id's to vote when you assure us there is no problem. Like you said, when someone fights so hard over something they say doesn't exist, you have to wonder what their real purpose is.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

I'm anxious to see the evidence you surely have that we have a voter fraud problem in this state.

Steve
Steve

Awww, once you use up your "what problem i don't see no problem" you don't have anything do you? Keep up the good fight, i'm sure all those people you assure us don't exist are grateful, even though they don't exist.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

I'll give you a while to thoughtfully consider the flaws in that argument.

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