After six failed points of order, the House Democrats decided to take a different approach to the debate over the voter ID bill. At an impromptu press conferene on the lobby stairs, they announced they’d now start focusing on amendments. A whole lot of amendments.
The idea is to soften the bill, which requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, said the amendments would expand the number of acceptable forms of ID, to include things like student identification cards from state universities. He also said they’ll offer an amendment to create a single and comprehensive “vote-saving affidavit” that voters can use if they don’t have one of the required photo identifications. They’re going to try to change the bill—but don’t think they’re not happy about it.
“This bill, we fear, is about voter suppression and politics,” Anchia said. “This is not about voter integrity. This is a sloppily put together bill that will disenfranchise Texans.”
Anchia also told reporters that the free photo identification cards promised in the bill will cost the Department of Safety up to $14 million each biennium. Right now, fees collected for DPS-issued photo ID cards go toward the Texas Mobility Fund.
The Democrats also that there’s little evidence of voter fraud, and there are no cases of one person impersonating a voter, the only form of fraud the voter ID bill guards against. Fort Worth Democrat Marc Veasey, the vice chairman on the House voter ID select committee, was blunt. Voter impersonation “is a problem that doesn’t exist,” he said. “We haven’t seen such a strict voting law in Texas since the Voting Rights Act.”
Meanwhile, 37 amendments have already been filed, and there are likely many more to come.