Lawmakers to debate I.D. requirements to vote - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/9/09

Lawmakers to debate I.D. requirements to vote

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Tuesday, state lawmakers will pick up the debate to tighten restrictions on Texas voters.

Texans already have to show their registration card or another I.D.  Now, some state republicans want to require a photo I.D. or other form of identification before you can vote. The debate is expected to divide the state house along party lines, similar to the redistricting battles.

Supporters say the state needs tighter rules to prevent voter fraud, but those against say this proposal could be considered a new form of poll tax. "You've got a segment of the community that doesn't carry a driver license, so there is some concern about that," Lubbock City Councilwoman Linda DeLeon said.

DeLeon sees potential issues with an I.D. requirement to vote.  "I've had elderly aunts that never learned how to drive, so they don't have a driver license," DeLeon said. 

The current proposal would require voters to show a license or state I.D. Two other forms could be used, including utility bills or bank statements, but since bills need to be paid and the state charges for I.D.'s, some see that as a problem. "Those against it say it takes us back to a form, as they put it, of a poll tax," Lubbock County Elections Administrator Dorothy Kennedy said. 

Kennedy has heard both sides of the issue. Lawmakers considered I.D. mandates in 2005 and 2007, but they did not pass. "The whole reason for the bill is to prevent the fraud," Kennedy said.  Though, she says fraud hasn't been an issue in Lubbock County.  "No, we haven't seen that here," Kennedy said.  

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says fraud has plagued the state since the 1948 primary where votes found in Jim Wells County helped squeak Lyndon Johnson into the U.S. Senate.

A committee of the whole Texas Senate will discuss this issue Tuesday and Senator Robert Duncan of Lubbock will chair the session. NewsChannel 11 will let you know what happens.

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