Voter ID bill passes in Texas state House

AUSTIN — After more than 11 hours of debate, the Texas House voted 101-48 late Wednesday for a bill requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, increasing the likelihood that the measure will take effect in time for the 2012 elections.

House Republicans achieved a long-sought political goal by passing the bill. Now they will have to iron out differences with the version the Senate passed in January. Gov. Rick Perry had declared that the bill was one of a handful of emergency items. Republicans say their constituents demand the change to ensure election integrity.

"I have Democrats, Republicans and independents in my district who think people ought to show ID before being allowed to vote," said Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton.

All votes against the bill were by Democrats. They said the measure would disenfranchise poor and minority voters and is targeting a problem -- in-person voter fraud -- that doesn't exist. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said the bill would effectively return Texas to the days of Jim Crow.

"I think it's horrible," Veasey said. "I think it discriminates against people. I think we'll look back in shame."

Several kinds of government-issued photo identification would be accepted, including a driver's license, a U.S. military ID card and a U.S. passport. The cost of the bill was a point of contention, as the Department of Public Safety would be required to waive fees for issuing photo IDs to those who say they are getting them to vote.

Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville, was a strong proponent of the bill all day. He repeatedly noted that Mexico requires voters to present a government ID that features biometric data.

"I've had many people tell me that they don't believe their vote will count because of the fraud that exists in South Texas," Aliseda said.

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