A new attempt to enact voter identification rules to comply with court decisions that ruled a current law discriminates against minority voters were unveiled Thursday by Republican legislative leaders. Senate Bill 5 filed by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, would allow Texans a way to vote if they they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of seven forms of ID currently required at the polls. Ineligible voters who used the option to cast ballots would face stiff penalties under the measure, expected to stir new controversy from Hispanic and minority advocates as GOP leaders try to fix the exiting law.
The bill, which Lt. Gov. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has given priority status for fast passage in the Senate, has 19 co-sponsors — ensuring it is likely to easily pass in the Senate. Within hours after it was filed Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who is defending the current law in court — gave his endorsement.
Paxton said in a statement the measure would protect the “the integrity of the voting process” while complying with court rulings that have challenged the legality of its provisions. The Texas law is considered the strictest in the nation.
Repairing the current voter ID law to withstand court challenges has been a priority for state Republican leaders and their conservative base that for years has pushed for tougher voting rules to curb perceived widespread voting fraud — most of which they aim benefits Democrats.