Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Texas Senate Expected To Take Up Voter ID Bill Early

The Texas Senate on Wednesday, 14 January 2009, voted 18-13, along party lines, to exempt voter identification legislation from the longstanding “Two-Thirds” Rule. The two-thirds rule requires that 21 senators must support a measure before it can be brought to the floor for debate and a vote. The vote was to exempt any bill brought forward in the Texas Senate that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls before being allowed to vote.

Under the change, voter ID legislation can be brought up for a vote on the Senate floor with the approval of only 16 senators, not the 21 required under the customary two-thirds rule. Democrats could have blocked voter ID legislation under the usual two-thirds rule — as they did two years ago. Debate over voter photo ID in 2007 paralyzed the State Senate for weeks before the bill was rejected.

State Sen. Troy Fraiser (R-Horseshoe Bay) has already filed a Voter ID bill that the Senate is likely to take up early in this legislative session. Governor Perry (R) has also declared voter ID legislation is one of his priorities for this session in his State of the State address.

The Texas Democratic Party today (04Feb09) sent out an email encouraging folks across the state to call their state Senator and let their voices be heard on Voter ID. Democrats might as well start calling their representatives in the Texas House too, as the bill will most likely pass in the Senate. If the bill passes in the Senate, as it likely will, the Texas House is the only place that Democrats might be able mount a successful fight to block the measure. But, it will be a tough fight!

With the Texas House made up of 74 Democrats and 76 Republicans, after the 2008 election, the Voter ID bill will face a tougher fight in the Texas House this year than it did in 2007 when it passed. Republican Joe Straus will likely allow the voter ID bill to go the House floor for debate and an eventual vote given his comment to reporters on Friday, 16 January 2009, that he favors Voter Photo Identification:
Straus, who voted for the Voter ID bill in 2007, stated he thinks another examination of whether photo IDs are needed to combat voter fraud is appropriate. He said he does not yet know whether there are sufficient votes in the House to pass a bill.

The Voter ID bill, introduced in the House during the 2007 legislative session, (HB 218) passed by a vote of 76 to 69 when the House was made up of 69 Democrats and 81 Republicans. Two Republicans, who returned for the 81st legislative session, voted against HR 218 in 2007. The voter ID bill introduced in the Senate during the 2007 legislative session was successfully blocked from advancing in the Senate by Senate Democrats.
Straus, who is consider to be a somewhat more moderate conservative, took over the Speaker's Chair from hard right-winger Tom Craddick for the 2009 legislative session with the support of of every Democrat in the Texas House.

Locate your Collin County legislative district representatives in the House and Senate District here. Your Texas Legislative House and Senate District Numbers can be found on your Voter Registration Card. Check your voter registration card information online here.

Any claim that voter fraud is rampant in Texas is false.

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