Voter ID Bill in Committee Tuesday, Oppose Today!

This Tuesday, March 10th starting at 9 am the entire Texas Senate will hold a massive hearing on SB 362, a voter suppression bill that would require voters to show multiple forms of photo identification in order to vote at the polls.

Don’t think having to show ID to vote sounds that bad?  Think about how much more difficult it might be to keep current identification if you were elderly, or disabled, or homeless even.  Or what about low-income individuals… if you had to use public transportation to get around and worked multiple jobs, how much more difficult would that trip to DPS become?  What if you were a woman who had just gotten married, and still had a driver’s license with your old last name on it?  Or were a student with an out-of-state license, or had moved to Texas recently?  What if you had lived in Texas your whole life, but a hurricane hit your hometown just before the election — as happened with Hurricane Ike this fall.  Didn’t think to grab your ID and several bills to prove who you were?  Too bad, can’t vote.

Starting to sound like a problem, isn’t it?  Studies show that this bill has the potential to disenfranchise as many as 2 million Texans.

Good thing there’s still time to do something about it.

You know the gig by now.  Contact your Senator!  Call, email or fax your Senator and tell them you are opposed to Voter Suppression Legislation, specifically SB 362 by Fraser and Estes.  Don’t know who represents you?  Problem solved.

Still mad?  If you’re in Austin and have some free time tomorrow, you can do even more.  Attend the hearing and register your opposition to the bill, testify if you can.  There will also be a gathering at 10 a.m. on the south steps of the capitol of those in favor of the bill, which you are invited to attend with signs of your own voicing the opposite opinion.

More advice and details on action you can take after the jump, courtesy of Laurie Vanhoose, administrator of the Texans Against Voter Suppression Facebook group. Join it today, and contact your representatives about this reprehensible piece of legislation!  The rest of this post is lifted from an action e-mail she sent out Monday evening.

Register your opposition to this bill. Please stop by the Senate chambers during the debate on the 10th and sign a card against SB 362. Every citizen has the right to register their position on legislation during committee hearings. Go to the Senate chambers and tell the Senate Clerk that you want to “drop a card” against SB 362. Fill out the form and check the box that you are opposed to this legislation. The Senate Clerk will begin taking forms at 8:00am.

Give oral testimony against this bill. If you would like to deliver testimony to the Senate you may do so. Public testimony will begin in the afternoon and could run through the night, so be prepared to spend the entire day at the capitol if you intend to give oral testimony. Also, you need to bring 40 copies of your statement with you. You can sign up for testimony beginning at 8:00am with the Senate Clerk in the Senate chambers, keep in mind there may be many people wanting to give testimony so the earlier you sign in the better chance you will have of being toward the top of the list.

Attend the hearing in support of the Senators fighting this legislation. There will be a lot of different groups at the Capitol on Tuesday to show their support or opposition to this legislation. Please attend if you can. You can watch from the Senate gallery or the Capitol Auditorium (floor E1). The groups in support of this legislation are holding a rally at 10am on the South Steps of the Capitol; you are encouraged to attend with signs that show your opposition to this legislation. Please be respectful while in the Senate Chambers and gallery though.

Educate people across the state about this issue. Please write op-eds and letters to the editors regarding the potential impact of this legislation (See information below or email [email protected] if you need additional information). Write articles for local newsletters and papers. Please forward this email to everyone you know. Texans need to know the REAL impact of this legislation.

Stay engaged and be prepared to do this all over again when this legislation is passed from the Senate to the House. Once this passes the Senate we will need to start helping the Representatives defeat this legislation. This could happen in a matter of weeks after it passes the Senate, so be prepared to start calling your Representatives soon.

Talking Points

Voter Impersonation Fraud Doesn’t Exist – despite spending millions of dollars to investigate and stop voter fraud, the Attorney General of Texas has never prosecuted a single case of a voter impersonating another voter at the polls.

Voter ID measures propose an extra hurdle for many Texans that is reminiscent of the poll tax. The working poor and senior citizens are less likely to have a photo ID – or the time or ability to get one. In 2006, a study by the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice found that 18% of citizens 65 and over, 25% of African American citizens, and 15% of voters earning under $35,000/year don’t have government-issued photo identification.

Voter ID does not address most common election fraud or other more common election related problems. Thousands of eligible Texans are denied the right to register to vote and many eligible voters are turned away from the polls every election. We need to spend time ensuring that every eligible Texan has the right to vote, not wasting time and resources on addressing something that does not exist.

We have much bigger priorities in the State- healthcare, tuition deregulation, and economy. All of these issues deserve time and resources of the Senate. These issues impact every Texan every day.

This legislation will cost the State and Counties to implement.

  • Loss of revenue from issuing free DL (no ID is free, the State has to pay for it and the potential voter will have to spend time and money obtaining the documents needed to obtain a Drivers License)
  • Poll worker training
  • Voter Education Costs

As many as 2 million Texans could be disenfranchised:

  • Women — Name on ID does not match voter registration including recently married, divorced, hyphenated names, and new middle names
  • Older Texans — Lack current state issues photo identification, may have utilities and mail under relatives name
  • Students — Out-state license, mail goes to university p.o. box, no utilities, attending private university
  • Homeless — No Drivers license, no mail or utility bills
  • Low-income — Use public transportation, move frequently and may not have bills or mail with correct address, DMV lacking in inner-city metroplexes
  • Texans with disabilities –No drivers license, will need accessible transportation to obtain identification
  • Victims of identity theft — Identification is stolen and may not have 2 copies of other identification at time of voting
  • Natural Disaster victims — No identification or documents staying with relatives therefore no mail or utility statements in their name
  • Recent arrivals to Texas — Out-of- state identification, utility bills and other mail may not be correct name at time of election
  • Native American Indians — Lack photo identification and not likely to have government issued documentation.

Additional resources:

Senate Chamber Location in the Texas Capitol
Senate Chamber Texas Capitol Location – 2E.8 (2nd floor East Wing)
Senate Gallery – 3E.5 (3rd floor East Wing)

Parking -Texas Capitol, Capitol Extension and Capitol Visitors Center
Parking is available in the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th streets. Parking is free for the first two hours and $.75 for each half hour thereafter (maximum daily charge: $6.00); accessible parking is available. More information available from State Preservation Board’s website.

Help Get the Word Out to friends and family across Texas.

We need to hear stories from people this will impact.
Tell your family and friends to contact us at [email protected]