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

Texas legislator testifies about fraud
in voter ID lawsuit

Texas state Rep. Jose Aliseda, a Republican, told a three-judge federal panel Monday afternoon, that as a county attorney he encountered mail voter fraud and heard from constituents that they have lost faith in the voting system.

Upon cross examination, Aliseda acknowledged that his south Texas constituents would bear an undue burden to leave work and drive 60 miles round-trip to obtain a state-issued ID to vote. He also said that requiring constituents to pay $22 for a birth certificate to obtain an ID also is a burden. Despite that, Aliseda said the Texas voter ID bill, which is the focus of a federal court trial this week, went forward because the public wanted it.

After hearing the testimony Monday in Washington, D.C., Texas state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat, said he was surprised that proponents of voter ID tend to “gloss over” potential disenfranchisement of 795,000 voters who might not have valid ID.

President of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Martinez Fischer said the Texas case is based on the idea that citizens should trust the state government. That is the heart of the problem, he said, because “that is what got us here in the first place.”

Lack of trust in the state government is why Texas remain under the Justice Department’s oversight, he said.

By Annelise Russell and Lindsey Ruta, News21