Today, in the name of preventing voter fraud and electoral integrity, the Texas House passed SB 14 which would require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote. As simple and innocent as this sounds, this bill would disenfranchise between 150,000 to 500,000 of the 13 million eligible voters in Texas. Since 2002, 50 million votes were cast in Texas. In all that time, only 1 out of those votes, 1 out of 50 million resulted in a case of voter impersonation.
Many amendments that would have made the bill more fair were offered by Democrats only to be voted down on strict party lines. These amendments would have expand the types of photo ID acceptable for voting. Republicans rejected an amendment that would have allowed voters to sign an affidavit swearing to their identity, and to cast a provisional ballot with the assurance that their ballot would be counted if the signature on the affidavit matched the signature on the voter registration card.
Republicans also voted against exemptions for seniors, the indigent, people with religious objections and women who have had their names changed due to marriage or divorce. High school and college students eighteen or over will not be able to vote with their school IDs. College students legally registered in Texas will not be able to vote with an out-of-state driver’s licenses. My amendment to allow same day voter registration, which would mitigate the voter suppression that this bill would cause, while serving to increase voter participation was also voted down along party lines. Additionally, this bill is a vastly unfunded mandate on our already cash-strapped counties.
In light of our historic budget shortfall, this bill is simply irresponsible. There is no evidence that voter fraud will be prevented by the provisions in this bill. This bill would only establish more hurdles for the voter to have their voice heard through their vote. It is clear to me that this bill would do more harm than good to the integrity of our elections system.
Texas currently ranks 47th in the nation in voter turnout. This bill would put us on pace to rank dead last.