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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Monday, December 22, 2008

Texas Fight Over Voter ID

The Texas legislature meets every two years, as the Mississippi legislature did prior to 1970. In 2007, a Republican-sponsored photo voter ID measure easily passed the Texas House but failed in the Senate-- the reverse of what has happened in the Magnolia State. Now a compromise proposal is being discussed for the 2009 Texas legislative session.

"... [Republican] Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was unable to muster the two-thirds vote necessary to move the bill through the Senate, thanks to a solid bloc of 11 Democratic votes against it."

Typically, it was the Democrats who blocked the bill. It was evidently a constitutional amendment, since a two-thirds vote was required (a voter ID bill has not even been able to get a simple majority in the Mississippi House).

"One thing [Dewhurst] is offering is an exemption for senior citizens from the ID requirement or, at least, exempting seniors from having to pay a fee for their IDs.

"Several details, including the cutoff age, apparently have yet to be worked out.

"The bill approved by the House in 2007 would have exempted voters 80 and older from the ID requirement, but that provision was stripped out by the Senate... ."

Mississippi has discussed exempting anyone who was old enough to vote prior to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. While Texas would charge a fee for a photo ID for those lacking one, Georgia, which already mandates photo voter ID, furnishes the ID free to anyone who needs it; in fact, I don't know of any state that now charges a fee for the ID. It seems to me that a state that charged such a fee would be likely to face a lawsuit, as this might be compared to a poll tax.

"Republicans say photo IDs would guard against voter fraud. Democrats argue that Republicans are trying to intimidate minority voters who are more likely to support Democratic candidates."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Since their state has no citizens' initiative, Texans will have to depend on the legislature to enact voter ID. Mississippi, on the other hand, does have the initiative, although it's a difficult process.

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