The Citizenship Test & Voter IDiocy - UPDATED

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, Elections at 10:18 am by wcnews

It appears that Rep. Phil King’s citizenship test bill (HB 626) is headed to the trash heap this session, despite the talk of compromise yesterday. Here’s what Vince at Capitol Annex has to say about it.

Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) was all set this morning with a floor substitute which was essentially no better than the original bill. It would have shifted the burden of verifying citizenship to the Secretary of State’s Office (because used car dealers and political hacks are, you know, really good at that sort of thing). Instead of requiring the actual documents be presented when registering, it would have required that registrants note their city and county of birth or place and date of naturalization on their voter registration card.

While that sounds better, it’s not, because the verification process would take forever and be subject to many flaws and human error (plus, you still have many older people and older minorities whose births couldn’t be verified).

Ultimately, the bill was postponed again.

The rumor I’m hearing now is that the bill may be dead because of, irony of ironies, the floor substitute would cost several million dollars or more to implement in terms of new staff for the SOS, and possibly some sort of new computer system or database that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars that aren’t anywhere in the budget because Republicans gave it all away in tax cuts.

Is HB 626 dead? Who knows.

Nothing like a small government conservative growing the government.

Now back to Voter IDiocy. Yesterday we found out that the Royal Massett’s mother amendment from the House debate was stripped out of the bill by Sen. Troy Fraser in the Senate Committee.

Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, tweaked the House-approved proposal by not exempting any voters from the identification requirement. His version also stipulates that the ID mandate not affect voters until January, four months later than the House-adopted take.

It took a week but the AAS was finally able to dig up some body(s) to tout the virtues of the Voter IDiocy bill, that passed the Texas House last week, along with the even less virtuous citizenship test. Well the body(s) they found are Tom Aldred and Brent Connett of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI). Who are they you ask? Well who cares knows. But the TCCRI’s President of the Board of Directors is none other than, House Appropriations Chair Warren Chisum. Board members include Rep. Betty Brown, author of the voter IDiocy bill, Rep. Phil King, author of the citizenship test bill, and Williamson County’s own Rep. Dan Gattis, as well as former Rep., turned lobbyist, Arlene Wohlgemuth. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that the Executive Director is John Colyandro, yes that John Colyandro. It’s quite a lineup.

[UPDATE]: This from Kuff, great minds think alike? I wish.

The editorial in today’s AAS and my comments are below:

Now that we’ve considered the source, a group whose ED is under indictment, and many well know “win-nuts”, let’s go to the Op-Ed, ID rule will bolster integrity of elections. They open with a false premise:

The main argument against the voter identification and citizenship verification proposals in the Legislature runs as follows: requiring a person to prove his identity and citizenship constitutes a poll tax that will suppress the votes of the poor, elderly and minorities.

(There are many problems with this bill and that’s one of them. The main problem is that, first there’s not problem and even if there was the current bill would do nothing to fix it).

Throw in a bunch of mindless numbers to confuse:

The office of the secretary of state reports that there are 12.5 million registered voters in Texas. According to the Department of Public Safety, there are more than 14 million valid Texas driver’s licenses and almost another 4 million valid Texas ID cards issued to Texans over age 18. There are 5.5 million more government-issued identification cards possessed by the voting age population than there are registered voters.

A majority of the elderly hold valid Texas driver’s license: 73 percent of the age seventy-nine and 63 percent of 85-and-older population. Most telling is that 93 percent of elderly voters who voted in 2006 in Harris County — the state’s most populous county — hold a valid Texas driver’s license. Even more hold a Texas ID card, utility bill, hunting license, library card — all forms of acceptable identification in HB 218, which passed the Texas House.

(All that says is there’s a bunch of people in Texas that have state issued ID’s. But not everyone. And without a photo ID being mandatory the bill becomes pointless. How then would this bill stop someone from bringing in someone else’s utility bills, hunting license, and/or library card, which don’t have pictures, and impersonating them?)

Prove the point that voter fraud is not an issue:

Vote fraud has been well documented. In 2006, the attorney general investigated 59 cases and noted that the highest concentration of voter fraud is in the vote-by-mail process though there have been three instances of alleged illegal voting, which may include circumstances preventable by a voter photo ID law.

(That speaks for itself.)

And cherry-pick two recommendations our of 87 in the Carter Baker Commission report.

The bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform led by President Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker issued 87 recommendations for ensuring equal access to elections and election integrity. The commission recommended that states verify citizenship before registering voters and require photo identification at polling places.

(The ID provision in the report is in the context of the national Real ID Act. The recommendations also leave voter registration up to the states and not the local entities, much less the voter or the poll worker.)

Nice try fellas. Regurgitating the same talking points used by Rep. Brown last week on the House floor - gee isn’t that a coincidence - that made no sense then and even less now doesn’t help you cause.

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