Texas legislators: Reasons behind voter ID bill changed

U.S. Department of Justice witnesses took the stand in the Texas voter ID case Tuesday afternoon to explain their understanding of the motivations behind the law.

Texas state Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer and Rafael Anchia, both Democrats, recounted for the three-judge U.S. District Court panel the evolving reasons they heard given for law.

“The goalpost kept moving,” Martinez Fischer testified, when asked about motivation for the bill. He said the bill initially was touted as good immigration policy, an effort to keep undocumented immigrants from voting, but in 2011 the reasons shifted to eliminating what sponsors called voter fraud.

Anchia, a former member of the Texas House elections committee, said that publicly stated justification for the bill changed. Language referring to the legislation went from concern for impersonation, to non-citizen voting, to integrity at the polls, Anchia said.

Anchia testified that during floor debate on the ID bill, legislators claimed that they found cases of “rampant voter fraud,” but voter impersonation was a very small percentage of debate. The justification for the photo ID bill changed, Anchia testified.

By Lindsey Ruta and Annelise Russell, News21