Thursday, March 12, 2009

Voter ID rubberstamped by Republicans

No surprise ...

Exhausted after an all-night debate but assured of victory, Republicans (yesterday) rammed a bill requiring Texas voters to present identification papers through the first Senate vote on the bitterly partisan issue.

After emotional pleas to stop the bill, and expert and public testimony that begin Tuesday and didn’t end until shortly before 9, the so-called “Voter ID” bill passed a special Senate panel 20-12.

The “committee of the whole” includes all 31 senators and Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. While the bill must still get a final Senate vote, today’s action all but assures it will pass and be sent to the House as early as Monday.

The bill is being driven by Senate Republicans over fierce opposition from Democrats, who promised a legal challenge if the bill ultimately passes.

They don't want poor people or the elderly to vote, to say noyhing of all those people with extra pigmentation, because they lose when that happens. So, like redistricting, it's going to the courts. But not before the Texas House gets a crack at it:

Now that hotly contested legislation to require Texans to produce more identification to vote has won tentative approval in the state Senate, the battle will soon shift to the House, where prospects are less certain.

Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, who will play a lead role in shaping a voter ID bill in the Legislature, says he will oppose attempts to duplicate a strict photo-ID law now on the books in Indiana and will fight vigorously for safeguards against voter discrimination.

"I don’t think there is any chance we’ll be proposing the Indiana law on the House floor," Smith, chairman of the House Elections Committee, said Wednesday after the Senate advanced its version of a voter-ID bill after an all-night hearing.

The Indiana statute, considered the strictest law of its kind in the country, requires voters to present a photo identification before voting. The Senate measure also calls for photo identification but would allow voters without a photo ID to present two forms of alternate identification, such as a birth certificate, library card and hunting or fishing licenses. It also allows provisional ballots for registered voters without the required identification.

The SCOTUS, the above article notes, upheld the Indiana law on appeal. So eventually -- unless legal action delays its implementation -- the GOP will get its voter suppression, and Texas gets a few more years of one-party rule.

Update: Eye on Williamson, linking to Burka, leads me to believe that Voter ID will go through the DOJ, rather than the court system, due to (what else?) Texas' long sordid history of disenfranchising minority voters.

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