March 17, 2009
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, led Democratic objections to the proposal by Sen. Troy Fraser to require voters to identify themselves with a photo ID or other documents, followed by Democratic Sens. Leticia Van de Putte and Mario Gallegos.
Watson cast the measure as a political move in a political environment that won’t solve any real problem while potentially deterring regular voters from turning out.
“There remains only the flimsiest evidence that voter impersonation, the only kind of fraud addressed by this bill, even exists,” Watson said, adding that if there had been conclusive evidence of impersonation, then last week’s invited witnesses wouldn’t have been presented in the wee hours.
Watson, like Van de Putte, conceded that Republicans will soon advance Fraser’s Senate Bill 362 to the House. That has been all but a given since the Senate’s GOP majority changed the Senate’s rules at the start of this legislative session enabling them to take up the voter ID issue without getting the approval of two thirds’ of the body as usually required before floor action on a measure.
Watson said: “We can and we will shoot at this thing until we put holes in the holes. But that doesn’t change the numbers in this room.”
Perhaps the expected conclusion of this stage of action explains the lack of electricity in the air. The ID proposal is headed to the House as soon as Wednesday.
The floor scene: Some senators are seated at their desks, maybe listening to the speeches.
But others are checking their Blackberries or the like. Others, Democrats and Republicans, are on their phones. And a few are not on the floor at all—possibly snacking in the Senate lounge. Meanwhile, the visitors gallery overhanging the floor is lightly populated.