Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Public Speaks On Voter ID Before TX House Committee

Hunderds gathered to speak out on Voter ID
Originally Posted at KXAN Austin, TX
By Jenny Hoff - KXAN AUSTIN
Tuesday, 07 Apr 2009, 6:44 PM CDT

KXAN AUSTIN - Voter ID day at the Capitol started out with a rally of pro-Voter ID supporters.

Hundreds, dressed in red, gathered on the South steps to push House members to make the same decision as the Senate: Approve SB 362, which would require voters bring a photo ID to the polls.

"I have to provide a valid photo ID and my social security number just to get a fishing license, and I have to provide neither in order to vote," said Voter ID supporter, Liz Tate. "That makes absolutely no sense to me."

Tate is part of SafeTexas , a group that has been at the forefront of pushing Voter ID legislation.

Members of SafeTexas joined opponents of the bill to publicly testify before the House Elections Committee Tuesday afternoon. Every seat in the hearing room was filled, as speakers prepared themselves for a long night.

"I plan to wait 24 hours if I have to in order to testify in favor of this bill," said Rusty Hicks, who waited almost that long to testify during the Senate debate on Voter ID

The first person to testify before the House committee spoke out against the bill. Randall Buck Wood, an attorney, said he has investigated voter fraud and found nothing this bill would solve.

"I've never found a person impersonating another voter," said Wood. "I've never found illegal immigrants trying to vote."

That comment was met with grumblings from some of the pro-Voter ID members of the audience who believe voter fraud is alive and well in Texas.

An All-Night Affair

Rep. Todd Smith, Chair of the Elections Committee, said he will give everyone who wants to testify a chance to do so. Each speakers gets three minutes and then a chance to answer questions posed by committee members. When the Senate Committee of the Whole had its hearing on the issue, the debate and testimony lasted almost 24 hours.

Smith does not expect the committee to vote on the bill this week. However, once it does approve the bill, SB 362 will then move to the House floor for debate.

Stipulations of the Bill

Under current law, to vote a regular ballot, voters are only required to present a voter registration certificate to a poll worker.

SB 362 would require all voters present a valid form of photo identification to the polls. If a person does not have a state ID or driver's license or other form of photo identification, they could be bring in two other forms of approved identification instead (utility bill, cable bill, etc).

The bill mandates the Secretary of State educate the public on the new voting law by posting a notice on the website and on the websites of local polling locations. The bill also mandates the Texas Department of Public Safety not charge people who want to obtain a state issued ID solely for the purpose of voting.

Related Posts:
Related Links:
  • Few voter ID fraud cases found in Texas LINK
  • House Elections Committee begins 2-day Voter ID debate LINK

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