Legislation that would require Texans to show a photo ID before voting was given final approval by the Senate on Monday, with the House expected to sign on later and send the bill to the governor. Senators approved the measure 19-12 along partisan lines, signaling the apparent victory in a long effort by Republicans to require voters to prove their identity before casting a ballot.
Democrats had managed to defeat the proposal in the last few legislative sessions, relying on parliamentary maneuvers and a large number of House Democrats. But that changed after last fall’s elections, when Republicans emerged with a supermajority in the House.
The measure will still have to be reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department under the federal Voting Rights Act, designed to protect minority voting rights in several southern states. And Democrats in the House and Senate have laid the groundwork to contest the proposal when it comes up for review.
Sen. Troy Fraser , R-Horseshoe Bay, author of the bill, said he is confident it will pass legal muster and noted that a similar photo ID requirement has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“All people will be able to comply with the requirement and will be able to vote,” Fraser said.
But Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, predicted the justice department will frown on the barriers to voting erected by the new law.
Democrats have maintained that the bill discriminates against senior citizens and lower income residents who are more likely to lack a photo ID and therefore may be denied their right to vote.