Friday, January 19, 2007

Voter Suppression Bill Filed in Texas House

Last September I wrote a piece on a bill passed in the US Congress to require photo ID at the polling place in 2008 and proof of citizenship in 2010. I never mentioned what bill it was, nor did I follow up on it.

I’m going to do that here because Vince at Capitol Annex posted yesterday that Phil King (R-Weatherford) has filed another such Voter Suppression bill in the Texas state house.

It was HR 4844 of the 109th Congress, called the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006. The bill passed with 98% of Republicans voting for it, and 98% of Democrats voting against it. It was sent on to the Senate where it was referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. There it died.

Now we have HB 626 which requires that voters have a proof of citizenship when registering to vote, and have a photo ID when showing up to vote. Proof of citizenship consisting of: a) a copy of one’s birth certificate or other such proof of birth, b) naturalization papers or c) an unexpired passport.

Back in September, I called such a heinous attempt to suppress the vote a poll tax. It is simply a requirement that a voter lay out some money to be enabled to vote. In that loose definition, it IS a poll tax. Vince makes the same observation in his posting also mentioning the fact that it specifically targets the elderly and poor who may not have the resources to get the paperwork together that are necessary to prove their citizenship.

This is going to be interesting because now, with Democratic majorities in the US House and Senate, we have the possibility of getting some legislation passed that would kill this bill. Last year, two bills introduced in the 109th Congress HR. 247 (Lewis-GA) and SR 53 (Obama) both had wording that “national photo identification requirements for voters should be rejected and that the U.S. Department of Justice should challenge any state law that has what the resolutions refer to as discriminatory photo-identification requirements”.

Something has got to be done about this, and if it is going to take heavy handedness from the federal government to keep voter suppressing states in line, then that's going to be what it takes.


Gabriel said...

Congress will have to do more than express its sense that the Justice Dept should do something to stop these bills. I'm sure Bush's Justice Dept will sit on its hands, especially given the degree to which it's been taken over by political appointees.

And this bill needs to be beaten before 2008. Will this pass the legislature in TX? What are the chances that it could be defeated there?

Hal said...

I agree. The Texas Attorney General had his own program of voter suppression going last October. Our Executive branches, both state and federal, behave more poorly on this than do our Legislatives.

In Texas, we have a 2/3 vote rule in the state Senate. For any vote to make it to the floor, 2/3s of the Senators must vote in favor. It's a good role that keeps bad legislation from being enacted. Right now there are 30 Senate districts and 11 of them are held by Democrats. So the chances are fair that the bill will pass in the House and poor that it will pass in the Senate.

Politics Texas style. Yee-Haw!