Last session the GOP was unable to deliver a voter identification bill after Democrats used delaying tactics to run out the clock. The new Republican super majority in the Texas House should have no problem getting it passed this time around.
During a stop in West Texas in December, Governor Rick Perry stated that a voter ID bill will pass “so fast that it will make your head spin,” reported the Lubbock Avalanche Journal.
The question for Texans is which voter ID bill is the best out of the several that have been filed.
Republican State Representative Todd Smith of Euless, who was House Elections Committee Chairman last session, has filed HB 401, which is modeled after a Georgia law that requires voters to produce a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Smith’s bill would also create a voter identification card for those who may not have a driver’s license, passport, or other approved form of photo ID.
HB 16, filed by Debbie Riddle, gives voters the option of producing either photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID, including a utility bill, a library card, a government check, or even a hunting license.
HB 186 by Charles Perry specifies government-issued photo ID only, as does Warren Chisum’s HB 248. On the Senate side, SB 14 has been introduced by Troy Fraser, which would require a government-issued photo ID.
In 2008 the United States Supreme Court ruled that individual states may require valid photo identification at polling places in order to reduce voter fraud, but
challenges to voter identification laws are being waged across the country on the state level. Democrats allege that any requirement to show photo identification in order to vote disenfranchises poor, rural, elderly, and minority voters. Nine states currently require voters to show a photo ID: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. While the Georgia law requiring a photo ID has been upheld in federal court, the Democrat Party is challenging the law in state court. Indiana’s State Supreme Court upheld its voter ID law in a 4-1 decision last summer.
Now is the time to let your state representative know your opinion. Bills are available to read online at: www.capitol.state.tx.us.