Today, the House’s five Hispanic Republicans announced their unanimous support of SB 14, the Voter ID bill. While Hispanics voting for a bill that reduces Hispanic voter turnout is curious in itself, it might also have long lasting negative effects for at least one of the new Hispanic Republicans in the chamber.
Voting for the divisive bill will put House member Aaron Peña, a former Democrat from Edinburg who recently switched parties, into unchartered territory. The bill’s detractors, including civil rights groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the ACLU and the League of Women Voters argue that the bill lowers Hispanic voter turnout, while proponents of the legislation say it’s needed to prevent voter fraud.
As the Rio Grande Guardian noted today if Peña votes for SB 14, “…It will be his first major break with the Rio Grande Valley delegation in the House. The other seven Valley House members are expected to vote against SB 14.”
A vote for the bill would also go against the recommendation of Peña’s hometown county judge Ramon Garcia, according to the Guardian. Garcia told the media outlet last week that he was very concerned about the legislation passing. “The Voter ID bill being considered in Austin would have a detrimental effect on the turnout. I don’t think there’s any question that would be the result,” he said.
If Peña does go rogue, it will be interesting to see how his support for Voter ID affects him in a district that is overwhelmingly against the bill.