“Senate Committee approves Texas voter ID overhaul”

Texas Tribune:

Filed by Committee Chairwoman Joan HuffmanSenate Bill 5 would add options for Texas voters who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of seven forms of ID currently required at the polls. It would also create harsh criminal penalties for those who falsely claim they need to choose from the expanded list of options.

Huffman’s bill would allow voters older than 70 to cast ballots using expired but otherwise acceptable photo IDs. The bill would also require the Texas secretary of state to create a mobile program for issuing election identification certificates. …

Celina Moreno, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, testified Monday that Huffman’s bill was a “major improvement” over the current law. But she pressed lawmakers to remove the felony penalties, calling them “voter intimidation.”

Matthew Simpson, with the ACLU of Texas, suggested that a third-degree felony is often reserved for violent conduct.

More than 16,400 Texas voters signed “reasonable impediment” affidavits during the 2016 general election, according to a tally of documents provided by the Texas secretary of state’s office. And an Associated Press analysis published found at least 500 instances in which voters signed the affidavit — and didn’t show photo ID — despite indicating that they owned one. Such voters could be harshly penalized under Huffman’s bill. It’s not clear how many of those questionable affidavits were submitted intentionally or out of confusion.

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