Voter ID Debate Postponed

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Lawmakers were prepared for an all day and perhaps all night debate on the House floor today, but they’ll have to wait for the contentious fight over voter ID. After only two hours on the floor today, the bill got sent back to committee to fix a technicality.

Thanks to the successful point of order, Democrats can claim some victory in their fight against the legislation. While Republicans have long tried to pass some measure that would require photo identification to cast a ballot, Democrats successfully killed the measure last year. But with a Republican supermajority, most expect the measure to pass this time around.

Only two amendments were heard before the bill, SB 14, was sent back to committee due to a technicality. While the postponement of the bill may seem like a small victory for House Democrats who have only few weapons with which to combat the proposed legislation, Republicans will surely be scouring the bill in anticipation of any further points of order which may stall the bill’s passage. 

The point of order was a way for Democrats to slog down the movement of a bill that they believe will make it difficult for lower income and minority citizens to vote. Republicans argue that the bill will ensure the integrity of elections.

According to state Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco, who raised the point of order that brought the debate to a halt, there is a discrepancy between the language in the bill and the language in the bill analysis. The bill itself states provisional voters have 6 business days after the election to present a valid photo ID in order for their vote to count. The Bill analysis states that provisional voters have 6 days. The difference may seem minute, but it was enough to stall the passage of the legislation.  

“We just don’t want any type of confusion for Texas voters,” Martinez commented. The bill will be reworked in committee and is expected to be back on the House floor for the long haul on Wednesday, after the requisite 36 hour waiting period. However, Republicans may suspend the rule—as they did with the equally contentious and partisan sonogram bill. If they choose to suspend, we could see the bill brought back to the floor as early as tomorrow.