AUSTIN — In the first partisan showdown of the 2011 Legislature, the Republican-dominated Senate voted 19-11 Wednesday night to require Texans to show one of five kinds of photo ID before they can vote.
Buoyed by solid majorities on both sides of the Capitol, Republicans made passage of the voter identification bill a top priority, saying their constituents are demanding a crackdown on voter fraud.
Democrats maintained that there is scant evidence of voter fraud in Texas and said the law would disenfranchise minorities, students and the working poor.
All Republicans voted for the bill; all Democrats present voted against it. Of the senators who represent Tarrant County, Republicans Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and Chris Harris of Arlington voted for the bill, and Democrat Wendy Davis of Fort Worth voted against it.
Gov. Rick Perry designated voter ID as an emergency item, putting it on a fast track during the first 60 days of the four-month legislative session.
"We put on our red jerseys and blue jerseys right out of the box," Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, said as he criticized Republican leaders for making voter ID the first big issue to advance in the Legislature, considering the state's huge budget shortfall and other pressing problems.
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