Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Voter ID Bill Out of Committee - - - Narrowly

The Senate version of the Republican-incepted voter ID bill has been narrowly voted out of the House Elections Committee, chaired by Todd Smith, by a vote of 5 to 4. SB 362 is getting set to go to the House floor where it surely will not get the same enthusiastic treatment that the Republican-heavy state senate gave it last March.

Indeed, during its stay in the committee Smith tried to amend it several times in order to make this bill palatable to Democrats.

A hopeless task some would say.

Hopeless because this Voter ID bill is a clear, brazen attempt to limit the number of Democrats who are coming to the polls to vote in increasing numbers. It is a last ditch effort by Republicans in the state legislature to retain power. A power they wrested from Democrats and then abused by holding the second in a decade redistricting – a move inspired by discredited former congressman Tom DeLay.

With a very narrow 76-74 majority in the House, Republicans have little hope for passage of this bill of oppression. Swing votes exist on both sides, but a quick headcount leads House Republicans to conclude that this bill, essentially unchanged from the bill that was approved in the Senate, will be DOA.

And even if it is passed by some fluke of nature, The Texas voter ID bill will surely face a court test.

So what, some would say. The harshest voter ID law, Indiana’s, has already passed muster in the US Supreme Court. A court challenge would be doomed to failure.

Ah, but we are talking about a former confederate state here. The Voting Rights Act was passed specifically to stop discrimination at polling places. Discrimination that is of historic significance in Texas. The Voter ID bill, they say, will be challenged in court in view of the VRA. Something they couldn’t do in Indiana.

In the end, I think that is what runs through the minds of Republicans who will vote against the bill. This bill is dead meat. And it is ironic that it is. After decades of misbehavior by “crackers in office” Republicans in Texas can’t even buy a Voter ID law now.

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