AUSTIN -- As politically emboldened Republicans predict almost certain enactment of a voter identification law in the 2011 Legislature, the House point man on the issue is pushing a measure patterned after one of the most stringent voter ID laws in the country.
House Elections Committee Chairman Todd Smith of Euless, who was at the center of a partisan brawl over voter ID during the 2009 Legislature, has introduced legislation that would require voters to show a photo ID to cast ballots. HB401, modeled after a Georgia law, would also authorize creation of a voter identification card, which would be among the approved ID forms.
Other acceptable IDs would be a driver's license; passport; concealed handgun license; military identification card; student ID with a photo; U.S. citizenship certificate; and state, federal or tribal ID cards with photos.
"The essence of it is very simple -- that you have to have a photo ID in order to vote," Smith said.
The outlook for a voter ID measure has changed dramatically after a Republican sweep in the November elections and two Democrats' recent defections. Republicans will control a 101-seat supermajority in the 150-member House when the Legislature convenes Jan. 11, giving them unprecedented leverage in pushing a conservative agenda that includes voter ID, toughened immigration measures and other GOP priorities.
"I think it is near certain that a voter ID bill of some kind will be voted out of the House," Smith said. Gov. Rick Perry used more forceful language during an appearance in West Texas late last week, saying a voter ID bill will pass "so fast it'll make your head spin," the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.
To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.