in Houston, Texas
GOP-controlled Texas state House passed voter ID; bills aimed at curbing mail-in ballot fraud pending
Thursday, Mar 24, 2011, 11:01AM CST
By Steve Miller
passport

House Republicans Wednesday night passed the voter ID legislation that state GOP leaders have embraced for years after 11 hours of amendments and arguments.

The policy, which requires voters to present photo identification at the polling place before voting, will cost $2 million to implement in 2012,when it would take effect.

The measure is expected to go to a formal House vote today, then moves to a combined chamber conference committee. The bill, like all measures affecting voting rights in Texas, faces federal scrutiny. If it passes that vetting, it becomes law in January.
 
If it is approved, the following forms of ID would be acceptable for voting purposes:
  • A driver's license or personal identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety that is current or no more than 60 days past its expiration date.
  • A U.S. military identification card, with photo, that is current or no more than 60 days past its expiration date.
  • A U.S. citizenship certificate that has a photograph.
  • A U.S. passport that is current or no more than 60 days past its expiration date.
  • A concealed handgun license issued by DPS that is current or no more than 60 days past its expiration date.
Voters who lack the required ID may cast a ballot provisionally and have six days to present a valid ID to officials.
 
While the bill addresses a potential voter fraud issue, according to its backers, it fails to address the more concrete and documented problem of mail-in ballot fraud that plagues elections in South Texas.
 
State Rep. Aaron Peña has introduced a number of House bills regarding the problem.
 
State Sen. Florence Shapiro earlier this month introduced a bill that would make it more difficult for the public to determine who files an application for a mail-in ballot.

Shapiro filed the bill with a statement:
Under current law, which passed during the 78th session, an individual can assist multiple voters who cast their ballots by mail, but must sign the envelope into which the voter places their ballot, as a record of who is offering assistance. The law is designed to curb activities by unscrupulous individuals who allegedly go to nursing homes, hospitals, other assisted living centers, and areas where people with language barriers live. They purportedly visit these places to help multiple voters cast their ballots; however, sometimes these individuals commit fraud either by marking ballots contrary to the wishes of the voters they are claiming to help or directing them how to vote.
 
***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of passport by flickr user clappstar, used via a Creative Commons license.
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