January 26, 2011
AUSTIN – The Texas Senate continues debate on a controversial bill which would require you to bring a state issued photo ID with you to the ballot box.
On a day characterized by last minute deal-making, senators were expected to wait until 9:20 p.m. Wednesday before taking up the issue.
However, Democrats struck a last minute deal with Republicans. They would allow debate to go forward earlier in the day.
Republicans then accepted a few Democratic modifications to the bill including provisions which would require educational materials related to the roll-out of an eventual voter ID law be printed in English, Spanish and, in some counties, Vietnamese.
Republicans joined with Democrats on an amendment to exempt certifiably disabled Texans from the provisions of the law. Republicans, however, rejected an amendment from State Sen. Kirk Watson, which would have stripped the voter ID requirements from the bill but toughened the penalties for voter fraud.
“It would strike at the heart of preventing fraud, and it would do it without making it more difficult for honest people to vote,” Watson said. “In fact, it would also prevent acts of suppression by saying it would become a first degree felony if a person impersonates or attempts to impersonate another person.”
Watson’s argument, though, was not enough to convince the majority of senators. His amendment and many others were struck down in a party line vote.
Debate will continue on amendments in to the evening. A final vote is expected to come Wednesday night. The bill is expected to pass the Senate.
Video available here.