The voter ID debate began early this morning with questions about Senate Bill 14 from Senate members. The question session played out like a game of dodge ball, with Democrats hurtling objections and concerns at Sen. Fraser, the author of the bill, and Fraser dodging those inquisitions with the political agility of a Chinese acrobat.
During the three-hour-long question-and-answer session, Fraser successfully avoided saying much of substance about his bill. He did not stray far from his talking points, and most of the time simply denied to comment, deferring questions to the Secretary of State, the Department of Public Safety, the Legislative Budget Board—anyone but him.
Some, like state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, questioned the validity of the $2 million dollar fiscal note attached to the bill that is expected to be covered or at least offset by funds from the federal Helping America Vote Act. “We are telling taxpayers it is going to only cost us $2 million with a 25 million population.” Gallegos said. “Missouri only has 5.9 million people and it’s costing them $6 million for Voter ID.”
Sen. Fraser deferred to the LBB.
And when state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, pointed out the unanticipated burden this bill could place on the elderly and the impoverished who may not have the time or the means to acquire voter ID, Fraser simply answered, “I am not advised.”
“What happens if I am a woman and I come into vote and the name on my state ID is different because I remarried or divorced?” Davis asked.
“You can ask the Secretary of State or the DPS when they get here,” Fraser replied.
“But you’re the author of this bill, Sen. Fraser!” many exclaimed, exasperated by Fraser’s failure to address their concerns. And maybe this is the point the Senate Democrats were trying to make all along.
Sen. Van De Putte admitted early on that, “There is no doubt this bill will pass.” Considering that the Republicans need only a simple majority to pass SB 14, Van De Putte’s prediction will most likely come true; however, the inquisition may have at least shown that while Fraser may have penned SB 14, he knew little about the intricacies of the legislation. Making Fraser look clueless is practically meaningless in terms of avoiding the inevitable passage of Voter ID legislation.