Sunday, April 22, 2007

Two Voter Suppression Bills To Be Considered In The Texas House Tomorrow

Is there a Republican conspiracy to retain or regain power by suppressing Democratic voters? If you buy in to the fact that there was a widespread effort at manipulations of voters at the polls and in the voting machines over the past 7 years, you will accept that as fact.

They play dirty. The playing field isn’t a level one.

Witness tomorrow’s (April 23rd) Texas state legislature calendar. Second and third on the agenda are two bills from the Dark Side: HB 218 by Betty Brown (R-Athens), and HB 626 by Phil King (R-Weatherford).

I identified Phil King’s bill in an earlier posting as nothing more than a poll tax. Illegal in this country. King’s bill requires that a person who registers to vote must provide proof of citizenship and lists three forms of proof: naturalization documentation, a valid US passport, a certified copy of one’s birth certificate.

Not one of these documents is free. Of the three, naturalization documents are the costliest, at $330.00. Fees to obtain a passport total $97.00 but in order to obtain a passport, one must provide a certified copy of their birth certificate. Fees for that vary from one state to another but in Texas the fee to obtain a copy offline is $22.00.

This is a poll tax, pure and simple. It requires that a person pay a fee in order to register to vote.

Voting is a right, not a privilege. You pay for privileges, you don’t pay for rights.

This bill is unconstitutional. It violates the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution. That amendment reads like this:

"Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Forty states ratified this amendment.
Rejecting the amendment was the state of Mississippi. States not voting to ratify included Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.

Guess Texas still thinks it’s a bad amendment.

The other bill, HB 218, is yet even more insidious. It is a bill to suppress voters at the polls. Present law says that voters need only bring a voter registration card to identify themselves. This law requires that voters have a photo ID. Voting should be made an easy thing to do, not something that makes voters jump through hoops. Those least likely to have photo id, but most likely to vote Democratic are the elderly and the financially strapped.

This bill requires that voters identify themselves with a photo id. A driver’s license or a DPS issued identification card. This, they say, is to prevent voter fraud. The bill’s analysis has these words: “…it is possible for an unscrupulous individual to submit several falsified voter registration applications and to receive the voter registration certificates for the "fake" individuals.” There is no documentation that these frauds are occurring; only that it is possible for the fraud to occur.

Now we have to pass laws in anticipation of wrongdoing? Laws aren’t supposed to remedy possible outcomes; they are supposed to remedy actual ones.

And in as pointed out at the top of this posting, the only voter fraud that has occurred these days has been what Republicans have done to steal elections over the past 7 years.

What is interesting in this bill is that it appears to go out of its way to ensure that it isn’t a poll tax. You can obtain a free photo ID at the DPS if you file an affidavit saying that you are “financially unable to pay the required fee”. But guess what you also need in order to get the fee waived? Either one of a valid voter registration card or a voter registration application. (!)

What? Are you kidding? In order to vote you cannot submit a voter registration card as proof of registration, but in order to obtain a photo id at the DPS, a voter registration card is required if you can’t pay the fee?

Is it just me or are there others who read this that think that not only is it a naked attempt to suppress the vote of the elderly and the poor, but also that it ironically allows the same forgeable document it forbids at polling places to be used at DPS locations to obtain free state-issued photo id?

I’m not kidding. Section 7 lines 10 through 18.

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