Congressmembers Discuss Texas Voting Law

This election season, both parties are gearing up for a big fight both locally and nationally. Here in Houston, Democrats held a congressional hearing on voting rights and what they feel is an effort to suppress the vote.

Attorney Chad Dunne was one of the first to speak before a panel that consisted of local Congressmembers Al Green, Sheila Jackson Lee and Gene Green. Dunn started off by saying things have improved … just not enough.

"We no longer have the poll tax and literacy test. Instead what we have in Texas, as I would describe it, is a puzzle or an obstacle course in order to vote."

The event was held at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. According to the U.S Justice Department about 1.5 million registered Texas voters don't have state-issued photo IDs, and that a disproportionate share of those voters are Hispanic or Black.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee says the new Texas law that would require ID’s by all voters is an all out war on voting. Her fellow Congressman Gene Green was asked what exactly is the big deal with requiring an ID in order to vote.

"I don’t think it’s a big deal for most folks. But some of my senior citizens just do not have photo ID’s. They don’t drive anymore, but yet they’ve voted their whole life. Why would we make them now have a photo ID when they’ve always voted."

Those in favor of the voter ID law say it’s not that hard for someone who doesn’t have an ID to go get one. Green’s response to that is why if no one is cheating.?

"There’s no big issue of voter fraud in the state of Texas, or even nationally. There’s not people coming in and voting whether you’re Hispanic and undocumented, you’re not going to go vote. It’s an effort to suppress the number of folks who vote."

The Texas law is in the hands of a 3 judge panel in Washington. A decision is expected sometime in August.