Monday, April 23, 2007

Voter ID bills coming to the floor

Betty Brown just brought up HB 218, which is the first of two voting rights bills to come up for debate today. The other is HB 626 by Phil King.

HB 218 would require additional forms of identification in order to vote to combat voter fraud, but it is more tailored to voter impersonation. Texas currently requires voter identification at the polls in the form of a voter registration card, photo or non-photo identification. What HB 218 intends to target is the identification of dead people (maybe even still-borns) being used illegally by others to vote. However, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General's office have produced zero cases of fraud. Betty Brown claims to have some cases forwarded on from counties, but after investigation from state offices, there's no vetted research to show that voter fraud's nothing more than simply alleged.

HB 626 would require proof of citizenship. For U.S. citizens, costs of such proof is small: a new copy of a birth certificate is a mere $23. However, if you're a naturalized citizen, an extra copy of your naturalization certificate is $220. A new copy of the certificate is the only accepted form for immigrants; a photocopy of your existing papers would not be accepted. Anyone remember poll taxes?

Although I cannot disagree with a legal voter's intent to legally vote, I very much disagree with the methods since the consequences appear to far outweigh the supposed benefits.

I'm guessing this will be a long day today since neither the Republicans or Democrats (votes will be strictly along party lines), given the debate between Brown and Anchia. They can't even agree on facts:

Anchia: "Don't you agree with the New York University's School of Law's Brennan Center?"

Betty Brown: "Well no, I don't."

Anchia: "Who do you believe, the Kaufman County School of Law?!"

This surely won't be the worst of the partisan politics during today's debates. As Ed Sills noted on 4/13 on Quorum Report's R&D, this will surely wreck any feelings of bi-partisanship that has coalesced over issues like like TYC and TXU.

Sills: With fewer "speaker votes," the minority party is winning more issues cleanly on the merits. The majority party still frames everything, but there’s more evidence of carrot and less of stick.

This certainly begs the question of whether these bills were brought forth specifically to divide these sentiments of the session.



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