House Elections Committee Meets Friday

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Elections, Right Wing Lies at 12:57 pm by wcnews

Voter fraud, voter ID on agenda

Rep. Kirk England’s first as a Democrat

The Texas House Committee on Elections will meet tomorrow. Here’s the posting for the meeting:

The committee will hear invited testimony on the following charge:

Examine the prevalence of fraud in Texas elections, considering prosecution rates and measures for prevention. Study new laws in other states regarding voter identification, and recommend statutory changes necessary to ensure that only eligible voters can vote in Texas elections. Specifically study the Texas mail-in ballot system, the provisional voting system, and the various processes for maintaining voter lists of ineligible voters.

That’s #2 on the committees interim charge for those scoring at home. Anyone who pays attention to this issue knows there’s no evidence the most commonly talked about, and very risky vote fraud, voter impersonation at the polling place on election day. To the extent that fraud exists, which is minimal, it’s with mail-in ballots, which are much less risky and can be done in private. Fraud regarding mail-in ballots has been pursued by the Texas AG, although it’s been mainly a partisan effort [.PDF]. But the overall GOP purpose regarding voter ID is suppression of Democratic voters.

The committee now has a majority of Democrats on it because of a September party switch by Rep. Kirk England (D-Grand Prairie). During the 80th legislature, while still a Republican, he voted with his former party on the issue of voter ID. Hopefully along with a party change has come a change of heart on the issue of voter ID. Chances are he won’t be tested on this before November, unless 39% decides to call a special session for some reason.

Of course the Indiana case Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections, was argued before the US Supreme Court a couple of weeks back. From the arguments it appears another 5-4 decision is likely. And Garret Epps writing in The Nation, The Voter ID Fraud, puts it in it’s proper historical context:

The subtext of this case, and of the war over the vote, is a defect in America’s patchwork Constitution. Unlike virtually every modern democratic constitution, ours nowhere explicitly guarantees every competent citizen the right to vote. States can’t restrict the vote by race, or sex, or failure to pay a poll tax, or by age for anyone over 18; but the document nowhere says that eligible voters have a right to their vote. In fact, when Supreme Court Justices discuss voting rights, they often refer to this most basic of rights in scare quotes-“the ‘right’ to vote.” This allows judges to adopt a kind of faux neutrality: some people want to vote; others don’t want them to vote-the outcome is merely a matter of expediency.

This is desperately wrongheaded. In virtually every other advanced democracy, voting has a positive value: it is not up to the citizen to seek out a registrar or produce a satisfactory ID. Instead, the government itself is required to find and register every eligible voter and, if necessary, to provide each voter with an official ID without charge.

Amending the Constitution to guarantee the vote is an important long-term goal. But Congress can do much to ensure that this mischief does not grow, spread and become entrenched. Article I, Section 4, declares that the states shall regulate elections, unless Congress steps in. Congress could pass a statute requiring states to conduct fair, nonpartisan registration and to allow citizens to vote with a signature.

The only way this will end in Texas is by electing a Democratic majority in the Texas House and more Democrats (Joe Jaworski and Wendy Davis) to the Texas Senate.


  1. irvingguy said,

    January 23, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    To be precise, Article 1, Section 4 only relates to the election of US Representatives and US Senators. Five states (New Jersey, Kentucky, Virginia, Mississippi, and Louisiana) elect some or all of the state level candidates in odd numbered years. Many states and localities hold other types of elections virtually at will.

    Though verbiage mandating that the Voting Rights Act (as amended) would take precedence in implementation could help prevent the covered locales from maintaining two different sets of potentially discriminatory voting rules and practices, the overall impact of such a law would be uneven should states not covered by the Act seek to formally create two different types of voting qualifications-federal and non-federal.

    The legal basis for such a federal right to vote statute might find stronger constitutional basis under Article 4, Section 4: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government….”

    Historical research proving the Founder Fathers considered ‘a republican form of government’ possible only if the citizens qualified to vote could freely and fairly vote in elections could sway waivering conservative US Supreme Court justices in a constitutionality lawsuit, particularly Kennedy.

  2. wcnews said,

    January 24, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Good points. I just thought it was an interesting take on “voting rights”. I think contemporary Americans tend to forget that when the constitution was ratified all the people were able to vote for was the House of Representatives. The founders thought it best that the Electoral College choose the President and the state legislatures choose the Senators. They didn’t create a “democracy” for a reason and didn’t want too much power vested in the people.

    Thanks for the comment.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.