One of the sideshows at the Texas legislature is a Republican effort to pass a law that requires voters to have a photo ID to identify themselves prior to voting. For many Republicans, this seems like a no-brainer. In this era of identity theft, virtually everything you do requires identification; why should voting be any different?
Not surprisingly Democrats disagree. A state senator from San Antonio recently authored an op-ed piece describing how a voter-ID law would work a hardship on voters in his district and would “diminish our democracy.”
Democrats feel so strongly about this issue that they filibustered it during the last legislative session. To avoid a filibuster during this session, the Republicans in the Senate adopted a rule that a filibuster could be used against any bill except one dealing with voter ID.
Last week the voter-ID bill was presented on the Senate floor for debate. The Democrats proposed 40 amendments during six hours of debate. Ultimately, the Senate approved the bill on a straight party-line vote of 19-11, and now it moves onto to the House, where Republicans hold a 101-49 majority. That should mean smooth sailing.
Regarding the Democratic argument that this bill is a solution in search of a problem, I disagree. Although I have not been an election judge, I have heard and read about the electioneering in poor districts where people are paid to produce voters. For great reporting on this subject, see the two-part article by Lucy Snearley in the South Texas Oracle. The voter-ID law won’t eliminate that sort of unethical practice, but it will discourage it.
Democrats have a history of endorsing this sort of heavy-handed electioneering because it helps them win elections (e.g., see Obama and ACORN), and to them the ends justify the means. That helps explain why some impoverished districts vote 95-99% Democratic in contested elections. That also helps explain why Democrats opposed secret-ballot elections for unionizing.
We need more people doing the right thing for America, even if that is contrary to their personal interest.