Monday, April 6, 2009

Take Action - Photo Voter ID Bill Up For House Committee Testimony

Video: Texas Senator Kirk Watson's speech
against the Photo Voter ID bill (SB362)
On April 6th-7th, the Texas House Committee on Elections will hear testimony on the Photo Voter ID bill, which already passed in the Texas Senate in March.

While proponents of Texas voter ID legislation argue that it's needed to combat voter fraud, there is no evidence that the type of fraud this legislation addresses has occurred at any point since records have been kept.

Republicans have been unable to provide any actual evidence on their claim that large groups of people knowingly and willingly give false information to establish voter eligibility, and knowingly and willingly vote illegally or participate in a conspiracy to encourage illegal voting by others.

In fact, according to an article in the Dallas Morning News:
County election officials said voter fraud was difficult to carry out in Texas because each applicant must submit a driver's license number or Social Security number, which is entered into a statewide electronic database and checked by the secretary of state's office. Applicants are sent a voting card and officially added to the rolls only if there are no discrepancies and the secretary of state's office approves the application.

...elections administrators said there's no proof that county officials are registering a significant number of non-citizens to vote. "I don't think we are, and I have no evidence that we have people over registered to vote," said Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet.

...Steve Raborn, elections administrator for Tarrant County, said a two-year investigation by his office of questionable voter registrations in 2004 and 2005 found only three non-citizens on the county voter rolls, and they were later removed.
A Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law study found that as many as 11 percent of citizens, mostly the elderly, poor and minority American citizens, do not have a current, government-issued photo ID. Voting rights advocates say that requiring photo identification threatens to disenfranchise many older Americans, a growing segment of the population in Collin County as retirees increasingly move to the county.
Senior citizens are less likely to have unexpired driver’s licenses or other government photo id and they are less likely to have their birth certificates, which are often needed to obtain a government photo ID.

This has proven to be the case in Arizona, Indiana and the other eight states that required government issued photo identification to vote in the 2008 election.

(actually, in Collin County this would turn out to benefit Democrats and suppress Republican votes since it would tend to reduce the vote from the solidly Republican block of retirees in the county.)

The Texas photo Voter ID bill is part the Republican agenda to keep Republicans in office by suppressing the vote of groups that tend to vote Democratic. In the 10 states that have already passed picture ID laws, voter participation is down about 3 percent. However, black and Hispanic voter participation is down more than 10 percent in those states. The success of Democratic voter registration drives among these Texas groups in 2008 threatens to tip the balance of power away from Republican candidates in future elections. As the tide of Democratic voters continues to grow across Texas, voter ID legislation would be an effective way for Republicans to hold back the tide.

Consequently, the use of baseless "voter fraud" allegations to promote voter photo ID legislation has become such an urgent priority for Republicans in the 2009 Texas legislative session that Republicans in the Texas Senate were compelled to change long standing Senate rules to just to bring the photo ID legislation to a vote.

Call Elections Committee Chairman Todd Smith and ask him why Republicans are making photo Voter ID the highest priority when there is no evidence of voter fraud, even after Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott's $1.4 million two year investigation attempting to locate voter fraud failed to identify anything more than 26 cases where people forgot to sign and address the absentee ballot envelope:

Contact Information:

Call Rep. Todd Smith, Chairman of House Committee on Elections, at his capitol phone number (512) 463-0522 or write him an email - link to email form - or do both!

Write a letter to your local newspaper editor

Click here to contact other members of the House Elections Committee.

Click here for more key points on the photo Voter ID bill.

Republican Sen. Troy Fraser answers questions about his Voter ID proposal.

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