TX Senate Opens Public Debate, Prepares For Vote On Voter ID Law

Public testimony gets underway today in the Texas Senate on a proposed law requiring voters to show a photo ID when they go to the polls. Republicans say voter ID laws are needed to prevent fraud. Democrats contend it's a partisan move designed to increase GOP margins on Election Day. As David Pitman reports, voter impersonation does not appear to be a widespread problem in Texas.

A review of records from the state Attorney General's office shows two complaints of voter impersonation were referred to the AG over the last nine years. Both complaints were made in 2010. But the records do not indicate the outcome of those referrals.

Jon Greenbaum is chief counsel at the Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Under Law — a non-partisan organization. He says stealing another person's voter registration card to cast a ballot is not a smart strategy.

"Especially when you don't know if the actual voter has voted already. You don't know if the poll worker knows the voter. You don't know if the poll worker's gonna know the impersonator. It's really not a good way to game the election."

Greenbaum says Texas already has protections against voter impersonation.

"You either have to bring your voter certificate in, or you have to sign an affidavit and provide some form of identification, not necessarily photo identification."

Greenbaum and other voting rights advocates say voter ID laws are designed to reduce turnout among certain groups who are less likely to have a photo ID:

"The elderly, student voters, poor and minority voters."

Only two states, Indiana and Georgia, currently have laws requiring photo ID at the polls. Texas Democrats blocked a similar voter ID law two years ago.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...