Voter ID bill on Perry's desk
Fifteen months after Gov. Rick Perry said he would make sure the 2011 Legislature acted on a voter ID proposal, a measure approved by lawmakers awaits his signature.
In January, we rated his promise In the Works after Perry placed the issue on the fast track by declaring it an emergency. Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told the Austin American-Statesman that voter ID was "unfinished business from last session." In 2009, some House Democrats killed the legislation by slowing action on other proposals.
Since January, versions of the latest proposal requiring Texas voters to show an acceptable government-issued ID at the polls have twice cleared the House and Senate.
The Senate got the debate going early, approving Republican Sen. Troy Fraser's bill along party lines Jan. 26. Democrats argued that the legislation would make it more difficult for some minorities and disabled Texans to vote. Republicans said the change was necessary to combat voter fraud.
The House followed on March 23, two days after the Democrats used a procedural maneuver to delay the vote. Members approved the legislation after more than 11 hours of debate.
Minor differences in the two chamber's bills were resolved by a House-Senate conference committee, and during the negotiations, lawmakers agreed to allow Texans with no valid ID to vote with a new form, called an election identification certificate, that will be issued by the Department of Public Safety and can be used only for voting. In May, the two bodies signed off on the legislation's final version.
Given that the House and Senate have finished action on voter ID, Perry's promise is Kept.
Austin American-Statesman, "Voter ID gets put on the fast track," Jan. 21, 2011
Austin American-Statesman, "Voter ID fight took unexpected turn," May 31, 2009
Texas Tribune, "Voter ID" topic page
Austin American-Statesman, "Speedy Senate checks voter ID off list," Jan. 26, 2011
Austin American-Statesman, "Emotional voter ID bill debate ends in passage," March 23, 2011
Dallas Morning News, "Bill to require photo ID to vote in Texas on way to Gov. Rick Perry," May 16, 2011
Texas Legislature Online, Senate Bill 14, 2011 session
Perry hinted at overtime session if voter ID law not passed in 2011 regular session
In a February video, Gov. Rick Perry promised to ensure that state lawmakers act on an issue that roiled the 2009 Legislature: whether to require voters to prove their identity at the polls.
Perry, a proponent of such a rule, made the pledge in a video response to this question submitted by the Austin Tea Party Patriots: "How do you intend to lead as governor and encourage the Texas Legislature to avoid last session's stalemate and instead pass a solid Voter ID bill?" The video was posted online July 28, and we spotted it, with help from Perry's office, this week.
Perry began his answer with a caveat: "I don't think a governor ... can force the Legislature to do anything." But later, hinting at his authority to call special sessions, he said, "I guess I might as well put (lawmakers) on notice today: We're going to do voter ID in 2011. We can either do it early, or we can do it late. Their call."
Perry has two clear-cut ways to influence what issues and proposals the Legislature takes up. One is to call a special session, for which he specifies the agenda. Another way is to declare an issue an emergency item for a regular session, which effectively places legislation on the fast track.
Perry did just that on Jan. 20, 2011, making "legislation to require a voter to present proof of identification when voting" an emergency item for the session.
The Texas Senate was debating the voter ID issue as we posted this update.
We rate this promise In the Works.
Gov. Rick Perry, "Gov. Perry Adds Voter I.D. and Balance Budget Amendment to Emergency Items for Legislative Session," Jan. 20, 2011
Austin American-Statesman, news article, "Voter ID gains momentum from Perry, Dewhurst," Jan. 20, 2011
Austin Tea Party Patriots, "2010 Virtual Gubernatorial Debate Between Rick Perry and Bill White,"#6 — Voter ID, posted July 28, 2010