The debate is going on in the Senate today over voter ID – it will be taken up by the House later, after committee hearings that are sure to be a freak show. You can follow the ins and outs at places like the Chron’s Texas Politics blog and the Statesman’s Postcards from the Lege; be sure to read this Seinfeldian classic so you can fully appreciate the deep unseriousness of the whole shebang. I do want to highlight one bit from this Chron preview story, helpfully flagged by TexasChick in the comments:
“This year’s Senate Bill 14, however, allows a person to vote only with a Texas driver’s license or state identification card, a valid military ID or a federal document such as a passport that proves citizenship and contains a photograph. The bill also includes $2 million for voter education and requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to issue a free photo ID card to any citizen who wants it for voting.”
Now I firmly believe that if the state is going to put conditions on citizens’ ability to exercise their rights, the very least they can do is to try to accommodate the citizens who need help meeting those conditions. As such, I’m not going to criticize the $2 million that’s to be allocated (from federal HAVA funds, mind you) to accomplish that, other than to note that it’s not a whole lot of money though it is greater than zero. I just want to point out that what this shows is that if the people in charge really want to do something, they will find a way to pay for it. So, two million bucks to help disenfranchise marginally fewer people (some people, anyway) than strictly necessary, we can do that. Public education, on the other hand, that’s gonna get cut somewhere between 9.3 and 9.8 billion dollars. Priorities, you know. Abby Rapoport, who notes that this version of the voter ID bill is more stringent than any currently out there, and as such may not survive scrutiny from the Justice Department (we can only hope), has more.