Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Denny's Damage

After 2 1/2 hours of a slightly surreal debate, an election bill carried by Rep. Mary Denny (R-Aubrey), SB 89, just passed on a partyline vote. Democrats would have continued tossing amendments at the bill had Houston Republican Rep. Joe Nixon not called the previous question, a legislative maneuver to end debate.

SB 89 is part of the GOP's onslaught this session to make it harder for low-income, minorities, and the elderly to vote. Of course, that's not the rationale of the author. Denny insists the provisions she has carried to force voters to present multiple forms of identification in order to be able to vote will stop rampant electoral fraud. She can't point to any specific examples of fraud but she knows it's out there.

SB 89 will require everybody to have at least a Texas drivers' license or in lieu of that two other pieces of identification as specified in the bill. If you don't have the identification, your vote will be cast as a provisional ballot. Then you have 5 days in which to present the proper ID.

There will be one exception, thanks to San Antonio Democrat David Leibowitz. With an emotional appeal that included the story of his elderly parents and much mention of the Greatest Generation that fought in World War II, Leibowitz got an amendment on the bill exempting anyone 85 and over from the new identification requirements. "Our parents deserve better," he said.

So does the state.