After more than 11 hours of debate, the Texas House voted 101-48 late Wednesday for a bill requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, increasing the likelihood that the measure will take effect in time for the 2012 elections.
House Republicans achieved a long-sought political goal by passing the bill. Now they will have to iron out differences with the version the Senate passed in January. Gov. Rick Perry had declared that the bill was one of a handful of emergency items. Republicans say their constituents demand the change to ensure election integrity.
All votes against the bill were by Democrats. They said the measure would disenfranchise poor and minority voters and is targeting a problem–in-person voter fraud–that doesn’t exist. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said the bill would effectively return Texas to the days of Jim Crow.
Several kinds of government-issued photo identification would be accepted, including a driver’s license, a U.S. military ID card and a U.S. passport.
The cost of the bill was a point of contention, as the Department of Public Safety would be required to waive fees for issuing photo IDs to those who say they are getting them to vote.
Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville, was a strong proponent of the bill all day. He repeatedly noted that Mexico requires voters to present a government ID that features biometric data.
A key amendment for Democrats came from Veasey to allow voters without valid identification to sign an affidavit swearing to their identity and making fraudulent voters liable for a second-degree felony.
The House rejected it.