in Houston, Texas
Woodlands residents tangle with powerful forces over alleged voter fraud in utility district election
Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012, 09:11AM CST
By Steve Miller
vote

When seven voters in a suburb north of Houston set out to upend an election there, they didn’t realize the powerful contingent they were upsetting.

The Woodlands voters are being prosecuted for fraud in a 2010 election for claiming residency at a hotel in the Woodlands Road Utility District. The district is supported by well-heeled developers and represented by a law firm that’s donated tens of thousands of dollars to state campaigns including that of Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office is prosecuting the case.

Records show that Abbott has received $14,500 in campaign contributions since 2002 from the law firm Schwartz, Page, & Harding, which handles legal affairs for the Woodland Road Utility District as well as Woodlands Township and several other districts in The Woodlands.

The legal complaint to the state that led to the indictment in March of the alleged illegal voters was submitted not by local legal authorities but by James Stilwell, an attorney representing the sitting board members of the Woodland utility district.

Stilwell outlined the alleged infractions in a Sept. 10, 2010, letter to Ann McGeehan, director of the elections division of the Texas Secretary of State office.

Stilwell cc’ed the secretary of state’s general counsel and Mike Page of Schwartz, Page, & Harding. But he also cc’ed several others with no apparent connection to the case, including state Sen. Tommy Williams on the complaint, as well as state Rep. Rob Eissler and Bruce Tough, chairman of The Woodlands Township. Williams and Eissler’s districts include the utility district.

An Abbott spokesman said the case was accepted on the referral of the Secretary of State.

Stilwell did not return calls or emails.

The Williams campaign fund has received $25,500 from Schwartz, Page, & Harding since 2003. Eissler’s campaign has received $19,000 from the firm since 2002.

A lawyer representing one of the indicted voters, Kelly Case, said he will explore any involvement by Williams, “once we depose him or subpoena him to testify, as we are planning to do.” Williams did not return calls or e-mails for comment.

Case claimed that the charges were filed despite the reluctance of Montgomery District Attorney Brett Ligon.

“...Ligon refused to prosecute these cases as he did not feel that they were criminal violations,” Case said. “He continues to maintain that position. I suppose that after not being able to convince Mr. Ligon to file charges, that Stilwell sought satisfaction elsewhere.”

Brett LigonBrett Ligon

Ligon, though, said his office, hindered by its relatively small size, took statements and handed the case to the voter fraud division of the AG’s office, which did its own investigation. In an interview, Ligon said he grappled with the notion of “state of mind” residency that the state uses in most cases.

“The secretary of state’s office said it comes down to state of mind,” Ligon said. “That is very difficult to pursue.”

Abbott has made strong statements in the past about the need to police voter fraud and his commitment to doing so.

His office has prosecuted numerous cases of voter fraud, mostly South Texas cases of vote harvesting in the Hispanic community.

Abbott in April claimed the need for the state’s voter ID law to be upheld by the feds, citing 57 election fraud prosecutions beginning in 2012.

Of those, most have involved illegal possession of another’s ballot, and a number of the cases fell under the broad charge of illegal voting, which can involve anything from voting while ineligible to voter impersonation.

The Woodlands voters were indicted in March, accused of illegal voting by registering at a hotel within the boundaries of the RUD and using the hotel as their home address. The Woodlands seven were frustrated at not having a voice in the special district, which has issued $75 million in debt since its formation in 1991.

In the district’s first election, they were hoping to gain enough votes to remove the sitting board members. They relied on previous statements from state election officials that claimed the residency requirement can be determined “by the voter.” Joined by three others who were never indicted, they won the election and removed three sitting board members by a 10-2 vote. The results were later overturned by a sitting judge in Montgomery County.

The utility district board until 2010 met in an 11th floor room at 24 Waterway, a building owned by Woodlands land baron and multimillionaire developer Dirk Laukien, who was one of two voters, along with his wife, Kate, casting votes that allowed the three sitting board members of the district up for re-election to remain in light of the judge’s ruling.

The Laukiens were the only registered voters in the district prior to the failed registration of the Woodlands activists, according to an email six weeks before the election from Page to Adrian Heath, the leader of the rogue voters.

The 11th floor office is also the registered address for the Woodlands Development Co PAC, which has delivered $2,500 to state Sen. Williams since 2007.

Suite 1100 is also the address listed over the last several years for a number of power broker companies in the development game around The Woodlands.

The Woodlands Operating Co. was registered to the address briefly in 2009, state records show. Richard Derr, who is treasurer of the PAC, represented the operating company at district meetings for years. Derr, in fact, made suggestions on projects to the board, according to meeting minutes.

The RUD wrote checks in 2008 and 2009 to the Woodlands Land Development Corp., which records show is managed by an operation called TWLDC Holdings GP, L.L.C. which also listed on state records in 2010 its address as 24 Waterway, #1100.

Case said he believes that Abbott’s office “is trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. ... Either that or someone with a political ax to grind has made this their cause.”

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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South Texas continues to be plagued by voter fraud
Friday, May 11, 2012, 11:23AM CST
By Steve Miller
vote

While state lawmakers pushed a voter ID bill last session, at least six bills addressing mail-in voter fraud never made it out of committee. So it’s hardly a surprise that voting in Hidalgo County in South Texas is already plagued by fraud allegations.

One in five early voters in the Hidalgo city council election had someone assist them, according to a story in The Monitor, a newspaper that covers the Rio Grande Valley.

The newspaper analyzed records from a March 2010 primary and found 12.7 percent of Hidalgo County voters received assistance, primarily in the poorer areas. It found that one candidate assisted 246 people at one polling place.

In 2010, Texas Watchdog documented voter fraud cases throughout South Texas, where residents often accepted the practice as a way of life despite well-documented staff reports of illegal activity.  State Rep. Aaron Peña last session introduced a number of bills that never gained support from North Texas lawmakers, where the majority of counties see few incidents of mail-in voter fraud.

State legislators have shown little interest in addressing mail-in voter fraud.

Hidalgo County officials have referred a number of election-related cases to the state Attorney General’s office over the past few years, including alleged illegal voting, unlawful assistance, coercion against candidacy, and bribery.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Texas AG Greg Abbott and his Republican counterparts amass power, challenge federal authority
Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012, 10:53AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Greg AbbottGreg Abbott

Texan Greg Abbott is one of the commanders of a new legion of Republican attorneys general in defiance across a broad front of federal legal authority.

Doubling their number to 24 since 2000, these tightly knit Republican AGs have over the past two years coordinated challenges to ObamaCare, its contraception mandate and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a penetrating analysis today by Reuters.

"There seems to be, in addition to the size, an intensified cohesion and collegiality among the (Republican) AGs," Abbott told Reuters. "Part of it is based on personality. Part of it is based on sense of purpose."

On March 26 Abbott won an appeal of the EPA’s rejection of the state’s permitting process for some power plants. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the EPA had exceeded its authority in making its ruling.

The state’s top attorneys have pushed back against federal challenges to voter identification laws and redistricting maps passed by their legislatures.

The Reuters story singles out Abbott for his role in questioning the validity today of a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that forces Texas and other southern states to have all changes to their voting district maps approved by the federal government.

While the Supreme Court did not directly address the issue, the court voted unanimously that the lower federal courts had overreached in redrawing district maps passed by the Texas Legislature.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of the Washington Monument on the National Mall by flickr user davidpc_, used via a Creative Commons license.

Tougher penalties for mail-in ballot fraud up for debate Monday in Texas House committee
Monday, Mar 28, 2011, 12:48PM CST
By Steve Miller
mailboxes

Political workers found guilty of mail-in ballot fraud would face harsher punishment under bills proposed by Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, who is targeting the practice with more than two dozen bills, including several set for debate today in the House Elections Committee.

Stemming mail-in fraud -- an old and entrenched practice in South Texas that is arguably the most prevalent form of voter fraud in Texas -- doesn't have the political gleam of the recently passed voter ID legislation. But given the Republican majority in both chambers, Peña is optimistic at least a few of his measures will pass.

 

“Democrats will not compromise in this, and I know that because I was one,” he said. Peña changed his party affiliation shortly before the legislative session, and prior to that was known as a conservative-tilting Democrat.

 

“They benefit from the politiquera system in South Texas. They need it to be competitive in certain districts,” Peña said, referencing the ballot harvesters known as politiqueras. “People down here are addicted to the system."

Aaron PenaPEÑA

Peña has introduced 25 bills that touch on mail-in, absentee balloting. One, House Bill 2585, would increase penalties for illegally possessing ballots. Another, House Bill 2586, would raise the penalty for lying on a mail-in ballot application from a misdemeanor to a felony.

“These bills are aimed at enhancing penalties,” Peña said. “There is just no doubt that this activity is going on, and it needs a law to stop it.”

 

Peña is supported by a cadre of Republicans, and he said he expects much the same resistance from Democrats that was heard during the heated and partisan voter ID debate. A newly created House select committee, voter identification and voter fraud, is composed of three Democrats and six Republicans. 

 

On the Senate side, Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, has introduced Senate Bill 997, which would prohibit anyone from inspecting mail-in ballot applications until after election day. Under current law, those applications are pored over by politiqueras, who visit the homes of those on the list under the auspices of assisting voters. The workers may pressure voters into casting ballots for the worker's candidates or fill out the ballot themselves to favor their candidates.

 

Shapiro's bill has been in committee since March 21. No hearing is scheduled. Shapiro did not return a call placed on Sunday.

 

During debate of the voter ID bill, Democrats reasoned that since mail-in ballot fraud was more prevalent in Texas, a policy aimed at in-person voting was misguided.

 

"If voter fraud is your purpose, why not a photo requirement for mail-in ballots?" state Sen, Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, asked during voter ID discussion in January. "Wouldn't you say there is more room for fraud with mail-in ballots?... Would you concede that there is more potential for mail-in ballot fraud than with someone showing up?"

 

Sen, Royce West, D-Dallas, also evoked absentee fraud during the debate, and noted the absence of legislation addressing that from the legislature as a whole.

 

“We’ve done nothing on that,” West said.

 

It’s been eight years since House Bill 54, the last far-reaching change in the law regarding absentee ballots. The law set out penalties for appropriating ballots and otherwise abusing the mail-in voter process.

 

Former state Rep. Steve Wolens, a Dallas Democrat, was its architect.

 

Peña voted for it then, as a Democrat.

 

“It was great legislation that even had bipartisan support," Peña said. And referring to Rep. Joe Pickett, the sole House Democrat to support voter ID, he said, "I think our friend from El Paso, on the voter ID measure, shows that stopping voter fraud is something everyone stands behind.”

 

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.


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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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Voter ID bill bounced back to Texas state House committee for housekeeping
Monday, Mar 21, 2011, 03:20PM CST
By Steve Miller
Capitol

Today was the day of the Big Formality, rather than the Big Debate, on voter ID. But instead of the easy passage expected in the Texas House, the Republican-sponsored measure requiring Texas voters to show a form of ID before casting a ballot was sent back to committee to clarify some language.

 

companion bill has already passed the Senate. The hearing is expected to pick up Wednesday.

 

Voter ID was given emergency status by Gov. Rick Perry after similar efforts failed in 2007 and 2009.

 

The measure being debated today would have required voters to present proof of identity – among them a driver's license, state-issued ID card, passport or military ID – before casting a ballot. If a voter could not provide the polling place with a required ID, he or she could vote provisionally, with up to six days after the election to provide an ID the county voting registrar. That provision, the six days, is what is being sent back to committee, where it is expected to be changed to six business days for clarification purposes. 

 

Democrats, who hold 49 House seats to the Republicans’ 101, have questioned the need for voter ID when there is a larger problem of voter fraud via mail-in ballot, a practice that has been well-documented by Texas Watchdog. Proponents of voter ID have cited other problems, like the issue of deceased voters remaining on the rolls years after their death, creating the potential for fraud, as Texas Watchdog has also documented.


***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.


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Photo of Texas state Capitol by flickr user Matt Rife, used via a Creative Commons license.

Texas State Rep. Aaron Peña plans legislation to curb mail-in ballot fraud
Thursday, Feb 24, 2011, 02:38PM CST
By Steve Miller
mailbox

Twenty bills aimed at curbing endemic voter fraud in South Texas are coming from state Rep. Aaron Peña, the Hildalgo County Democrat-turned-Republican.

“And I want to file them all in a row,” said Peña, who changed parties in December, just prior to the convening of the 82nd state legislative session in January.
 
Peña has been outspoken on the prevalence of vote harvesting in South Texas, in which political workers are paid to go to the homes of mail-in ballot voters – those over 65 or otherwise shut in – and urge them to vote for certain candidates. Dozens of people have been prosecuted for appropriating ballots, taking them to the post office and placing stamps on them for another voter in violation of state law.
 
The bills currently being drafted will target that practice, Peña said.
 
One of his first moves as a Republican in Austin was to form the Hispanic Republican Conference, and he launched that with a promise to address voter fraud. He vowed at that time to attack voter fraud, and while he supports voter ID, he said it is not going to do much to stem voter fraud.
 
He told Texas Monthly in January, "If it makes us feel good to pass [voter ID], okay. … (but) It’s not the solution to the voter fraud that is out there."
 
Aaron PenaPEÑA
“The Hispanic Republican Conference is going to play a large role in getting this through,” Peña told Texas Watchdog in an interview this week. “Most of us have to survive in this environment, and it is offensive to anyone who appreciates the rule of law. It is corrupting the moral fabric of the community and the political culture.”
 
Peña prefiled a bill in November that would require a precinct official to verify the identification of anyone assisting another voter at the polls and would limit the number of voters a person could assist to two per day. Current law does not require a helper to present ID. The bill would require an assistant to be a registered voter of the county in which the election is being held.
 
Texas Watchdog chronicled voter fraud in South Texas in a series of stories last year, and some state lawmakers, including state Sen. Florence Shapiro, vowed to look into it. But the focus so far this session has been on voter ID, which would not affect mail-in ballots, and Shapiro has been silent.
 
The last time anyone in the statehouse took on mail-in voter fraud was 2003, when Democratic state Rep. Steve Wolens authored a bill setting out more stringent penalties for abusing the mail-in ballot process.
 
During a Senate committee discussion on the voter ID bill in January, state Sen. Rodney Ellis asked bill author Sen. Troy Fraser, "If voter fraud is your purpose, why not a photo requirement for mail-in ballots? Wouldn't you say there is more room for fraud with mail-in ballots?"
 
The voter ID bill was approved in the Republican-controlled Senate and is now in the Republican-controlled House, where at least nine different voter ID bills have been filed.
 
The voter ID bills are scheduled to be discussed on Tuesday before the House Select Committee on Voter Identification and Voter Fraud.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of a mailbox by flickr user leff, used via a Creative Commons license.
Voter ID heads for Texas state House after passage in Senate
Thursday, Jan 27, 2011, 09:03AM CST
By Steve Miller
vote here

Republicans in the state Senate sent a voter ID bill to the House Wednesday after agreeing to add a concealed weapon license to the list of acceptable identifications needed to cast a ballot.

 

The bill was passed along party lines, 19-11, with Democrat Carlos Uresti absent.


The senators also approved an amendment that would kill the bill if the Legislature fails to appropriate money to cover the cost of implementation, estimated to be around $2 million. Republicans say that cost would be covered by federal funds from the Help America Vote Act.


Democrats complained that voter ID would not deter voter fraud, insisting that the mail-in ballot system has accounted for most cases of voter fraud in the state


From an Austin Chronicle story:

(State Sen. Royce) ”West noted that many experts agree the greatest potential fraud is in absentee ballots, not in-person voter impersonation. 'We’ve done nothing on that,' West said. 'I hope we’ll take off our blue and red jerseys after tonight and take care of the business of Texas.'"

And from a Houston Chronicle story, Jim Wells County elections administrator Pearlie Valadez said:

"Most voter fraud would be in the mail-in ballots, and the elderly are targeted because they are vulnerable. A photo ID would not have any effect on fraud in early voting.”

If the bill becomes law – and that appears inevitable as it heads for the Republican-dominated House  – it will likely face legal challenges. Texas' bill was patterned after Indiana's voter ID bill, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.

 

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.


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Photo of 'vote here' sign by flickr user myJon, used via a Creative Commons license.

Voter ID nearing final passage in Texas state Senate
Wednesday, Jan 26, 2011, 12:30PM CST
By Steve Miller
voting machine

Watchers of the voter ID bill currently being taken up in the state Senate will want to set their alarm clocks for dark o’clock in order to find out the final vote. 

Senators in Austin last night voted 20-12 to move the bill forward, and will begin at 9:20 tonight hearing amendments to the bills. There are currently 26 proposed amendments to the bill, and the list is likely to grow during the day. It’s also likely that passage of the bill will prompt a legal challenge, as the bill’s author state Sen. Troy Fraser alluded to under his breath yesterday during a hearing about voter ID.
 
At a point during which the discussion evolved into the impact of Indiana's voter ID law, Fraser said the bill he wrote is solid and would withstand any challenge, “assuming it gets to the Supreme Court.”
 
Indiana passed a voter ID bill in 2005 that was challenged by Democrats all the way to the Supreme Court, which turned back the challenge, allowing the bill to stand.
 
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Voter ID debated at the Texas state Capitol; measure looks sure to pass Senate
Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011, 08:35PM CST
By Steve Miller
driver's license

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said it's an emergency, and his fellow Republicans in the Senate jumped at the chance this week to debate a voter ID bill after failing to push one through last session.

Democrats grilled state Sen. Troy Fraser, the Republican who filed voter ID legislation two weeks ago, for hours on Tuesday regarding the associated price tag of $2 million, the trouble some voters might have obtaining a free ID card offered under the bill, permissible forms of ID and the ability of the bill, if passed, to clear constitutional and other legal challenges. Fraser often deferred the question to others.


Sen. Royce West inquired as to the definition of an election official. Fraser referred him to the Secretary of State’s office.


Sen. Carlos Uresti asked what kind of provisions would be made to help people get a free ID card, which would be distributed by the Department of Public Safety. Fraser referred Uresti to the DPS.


And when Sen. Leticia Van de Putte asked what form of ID the DPS would require in order to provide the free ID, Fraser said he did not know.


Troy FraserFRASER

Sen. Rodney Ellis pointed out that the most common voter fraud takes place via the mail-in ballot process.


"If voter fraud is your purpose, why not a photo requirement for mail-in ballots?" Ellis asked. "Wouldn't you say there is more room for fraud with mail-in ballots?"


Fraser said his measure doesn't address that type of fraud.

"But would you concede that there is more potential for mail-in ballot fraud than with someone showing up?" Ellis insisted. Fraser didn't answer, saying simply that his bill was about voter ID.

While voter ID may stop some fraud -- Texas Watchdog, for example, found the names of dead voters being used to vote in Houston -- mail-in ballot fraud is the most prevalent form of deception in the voting process in Texas, which Texas Watchdog has investigated extensively.

Indeed, the state Attorney General's office has dedicated thousands of investigative hours and dollars to prosecution of the practice, primarily in South Texas. But lawmakers have been reluctant to address it.

Fraser did, however, adroitly outline the parameters and requirements of his bill:

  • Four kinds of ID would be accepted: a Texas driver’s license or personal ID issued by the Department of Public Safety, a military ID, a passport or a citizenship certificate with a photo.
  • Anyone 70 or older by Jan. 1, 2012, would be grandfathered in and not subject to the new law.
  • Voters who have no photo ID would be allowed to vote after signing an affidavit and would have six days after the election to provide a suitable photo ID to the elections administrator.
  • A free ID card from the DPS would be issued to voters who state the ID is specifically to satisfy the voter ID law.

Van de Putte pointed out the bill is “more restrictive” than the bill that ultimately failed in the last session two years ago -- that bill allowed for voters without a photo ID to show two forms of nonphoto identification. But acknowledging the expanded majority of Republicans favoring voter ID this session, Van de Putte said, “There is no doubt this bill will pass.”

Both Fraser and voter ID opponents have cited a 2005 report on election reform by the Carter Baker Commission, saying it buttresses their positions.


Opponents asked for any proof of voter impersonation, which Fraser could not cite. They explored Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, under which certain states, including Texas, must obtain approval from the U.S. Attorney General before changing voting procedures.

 

While key Senate Democrats oppose voter ID, the majority of Texans support it, according to polls. A March 2009 University of Texas poll showed that 69 percent of Texans supported a voter ID measure. Opposing voter ID were 18 percent, and 13 percent said they did not know.

 

A representative from Fraser’s office said Texas' voter ID bill is patterned after similar laws in Georgia and Indiana. Georgia is also a Section 5 state, and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Indiana’s voter ID measure in 2008.


“These are the only two states right now with real voter ID laws,” Jennie Bowser, an election analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said in an interview with Texas Watchdog. Six other states request some form of photo identification from a voter, although in those cases a simple affidavit from the voter lacking that photo will suffice.


According to data from the NCSL, there are currently 32 bills in 13 states (check various election bills here) regarding voter ID, including Missouri,  Minnesota and South Carolina.


“And there is a tremendous variation regarding ID,” Bowser said. “In some states, a utility bill is considered ID, and some states have no provision for ID at all.”


Texas voters may present a utility bill to identify themselves at the polls. Citizenship papers, a birth certificate or a bank statement showing the voter's address are also accepted.


The proposed legislation will no doubt be amended as it moves through the Senate and into the House Committee on Elections. The members of House committees have not yet been finalized.


Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.


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Photo of a Texas driver's license by flickr user ezola, used via a Creative Commons license.

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Update:2 years 5 months
Swamplot
The Next Food Hall Coming to Downtown Houston Will Be a Storeful of Open Kitchens If you’re just coming up to speed on the whole food hall thing, remember this: It’s not a food court, it’s a food hall....
Update:2 years 5 months
Swamplot
Amazon Will Swallow Whole Foods Whole For those who expected Whole Foods Market to shop itself to a fellow grocery store chain and not a powerful company experimenting with...
Update:2 years 5 months
Swamplot
This Century’s Rise in Home Prices; Rare Local Air Monitoring Equipment Exhibited at Museum Houston-Area Home Prices Have Increased Nearly 30% Since 2000, Finds Harvard Study [Houston Chronicle] Stream, AMD To Develop 5-Story...
Update:2 years 5 months
Swamplot
Daily Demolition Report: Feagan, and Again, and Again Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Report lists buildings that received City of Houston demolition permits the previous weekday. Demolition is...
Update:2 years 5 months
Swamplot
Blessed are the Poor: Examining opposition to debtors-prison legislation Texas State Sen. Paul Bettencourt was quoted by the Associated Press (June 11) criticizing debtors-prison legislation (SB 1913) which...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Vault 14759 Oak Bend Dr. [HAR] … Read...
Update:2 years 5 months
Swamplot
Bones Found in Holdout Heights House Attic Tell No Tales Fox26 has now updated its story from March on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the fate of Mary Cerruti, the former owner of the...
Update:2 years 5 months
Swamplot
Fast Indian Comes to the Strip Center End of 19th St. Just opened this week in Re:Vive Development’s new add-on strip center at 721 W. 19th St., just west of Shepherd Dr.: the first...
Update:2 years 5 months
Swamplot
A Personal Big Day at L'Auberge in Lake Charles In previous posts, including in my Lifetime of Running Cold history of my personal gambling, Iit's been mentioned that I've been...
Update:2 years 5 months
Cory Crow
Debtors-prison policies decried, DPS cuts license center hours, and other stories Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention while mine is focused on preparing for a much-need break next week.SCOTUS...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
Junk-science based false convictions in Houston lampooned by comedian Someone has finally grokked and managed to convey in an accessible, understandable way the unmitigated travesty of justice surrounding drug...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
Just Liberty post-session roundup podcast Here's the latest Just Liberty podcast - this time reviewing criminal-justice reform legislation from the 85th Texas Legislature -...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
Governor signs omnibus innocence bill to track informants, record interrogations Governor Greg Abbott today signed HB 34, Texas' latest omnibus innocence legislation. Grits explained in this post why the eyewitness ID...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
Houston meeting of Texas Latino GOP PAC tomorrow evening From the InBox: The Texas Latino GOP PAC are the gatekeepers to the conservative Latino Community, for far too long GOP outreach to Latino...
Update:2 years 5 months
Big Jolly Politics
Sen. Joan Huffman to recap the 85th From the InBox: Join us THIS WEDNESDAY, June 14 (Flag Day!), for our meeting with State Sen. Joan Huffman, SD 17, who will be discussing...
Update:2 years 5 months
Big Jolly Politics
Gov. Abbott mistakes incarceration smell for "freedom" Governor Greg Abbott made a speech in Bell County recently declaring that, as one drove north out of Austin, one could notice a different...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
Unanswered questions about law-of-parties beyond death penalty In our podcast the other day, Texas Defender Service Executive Director Amanda Marzullo estimated that 10 percent of death-row defendants...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
Priorities The headline from the Victoria Advocate declaring that the Texas Legislature prioritized mental health treatment over incarceration is...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
Legislative Session The 85th Legislative Session was different in many ways. Two things changed the narrative this session. First, Empower Texans successfully...
Update:2 years 5 months
Big Jolly Politics
Court trends advise tempered enthusiasm for HB 34 eyewitness ID reforms Does this sound like a suggestive photo array to put before a witness?A witness described being robbed at gunpoint by a “[b]lack male,...
Update:2 years 5 months
Grits for Breakfast
MAY 22, 2917 / Theodore Dalrymple on secularization and transcendence THE SECULARIZATION of Europe is hardly any secret. Religion's long, melancholy, withdrawing roar, as Matthew Arnold put it, is a roar no...
Update:2 years 6 months
Unca Darrell
MAY 10 / James B. Comey . . . . . . needed firing. Everything he did during the 2016 election was wrong. He was wrong . . . . . . back in July to release information...
Update:2 years 6 months
Unca Darrell
Droppin' F bombs, Beto O'Rourke style It's not often that a politician decides to start cursing repeatedly during speeches and interviews. But that hasn't stopped...
Update:2 years 7 months
Rick Perry vs The World
APRIL 5, 2017 / Weeding out the audience at the Alley is . . . . . . a feature, not a bug. Houston's Alley Theatre is running "An Act of God," a loosely dramatized collection of irreverent one-liners...
Update:2 years 7 months
Unca Darrell
Statewide primary rumors It's that stage of the election cycle where politicians are trying to figure out if they should run for something else or stay put. ...
Update:2 years 8 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Not really. Sure, he's not liked, Texans think Ted puts Ted first, his approval rating is upside down, etc...
Update:2 years 8 months
Rick Perry vs The World
MARCH 16, 2017 / Jim Webb on what it means to be a redneck, and . . . . . . why redneck culture matters. In 2004 Jim Webb wrote Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Though the 2016 presidential...
Update:2 years 8 months
Unca Darrell
MARCH 3, 2017 -- Goodbye, and thanks, to Thomas Sowell THOMAS SOWELL, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and one of America's most important public intellectuals, retired from...
Update:2 years 9 months
Unca Darrell
March 2, 2017 / The poem our teachers got wrong TWO ROADS diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Generations of commencement...
Update:2 years 9 months
Unca Darrell
FEBRUARY 27 / Eric Hoffer on . . . . . . baby boomers and alienated intellectuals. "SCRATCH AN INTELLECTUAL, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the...
Update:2 years 9 months
Unca Darrell
2017 Project: January “Progress” There are two different ways to interpret my 2017 project: that it's a way more complicated New Years Resolution, or that it is essentially...
Update:2 years 10 months
Greg's Opinion
Ted Cruz's first senate term in a nutshell The National Review's Tim Alberta switched to Politico, and one of his opening pieces put Ted Cruz's first term in a nutshell It...
Update:2 years 10 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Andrea Parquet-Taylor named KTVT CBS 11 news director Former KHOU 11 assistant news director Andrea Parquet-Taylor named Vice President, News Director for KTVT CBS 11 Andrea...
Update:2 years 10 months
Mike McGuff
VIDEO: KPRC 2 10pm newscast (1-24-99) ...
Update:2 years 10 months
Mike McGuff
Democrats actually thought Wendy Davis was a serious candidate? Hat tip to Willisms: VIDEO- Wendy Davis being Wendy Davis: https://t.co/SHq3ACGVDJ #txlege— Will Franklin (@WILLisms) January 24,...
Update:2 years 10 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Luke Bryan to sing National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI on FOX ​ Country music superstar LUKE BRYAN will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI pregame festivities at NRG Stadium in Houston...
Update:2 years 10 months
Mike McGuff
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 7 years 6 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 7 years 6 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 7 years 6 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 7 years 6 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 7 years 6 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services" http://t.co/TOLgRVak
TxDOT | 7 years 6 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 7 years 6 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 7 years 6 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
San Antonio Current | 7 years 6 months
Go ahead, chalk it up http://t.co/YMWpC5wM #satx #chalkitup
Caller.com | 7 years 6 months
Scanner: Bathroom on fire in 600 block of Virginia, CC fire dept. on the way
Ballotpedia | 7 years 6 months
Does your state offer early voting? Do you qualify? Find out! #election2012 http://t.co/eodxBYVD
Dallas Morning News | 7 years 6 months
Why a Dallas-area cycling coach believed Lance Armstrong was drug-free (video) http://t.co/gURdYkj1
Caller.com | 7 years 6 months
Dozens of illegal waste dumpers sentenced in Jim Wells Co.; others on the run: http://t.co/NgerCdsQ
Karen Townsend | 7 years 6 months
Consistently impressed w/raullabrador when I listen to him in Congressional hearings. #Libya
Cory Crow | 7 years 6 months
Diigo: United raises fares by up to $10 per round trip - Business - http://t.co/kWY8gwPV http://t.co/bw25JP5R
News 4 WOAI | 7 years 6 months
If you see news in or around San Antonio 'SEND IT' to @NEWS4WOAI here: http://t.co/uMqbMXQv OR email us at: NEWSDESK@WOAITV.COM
swamplot | 7 years 6 months
Mining Houston Garbage for Recycling and Compost Gold http://t.co/HMMBArMX
swamplot | 7 years 6 months
Daily Demolition Report: Tulane Highway http://t.co/JXmkSx11
KFDA NewsChannel10 | 7 years 6 months
Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues http://t.co/y3VrPfkM
Williamson County | 7 years 6 months
Mental Health Awareness Week FREE Webinar:"Understanding Depression-How to Help You or a Loved One" Thurs,Oct 11@1pm-https://t.co/YUWi19WY
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