While State Rep. Todd Smith (R-Euless) has said it was Republicans who killed the recent legislative effort to require photo identification when voting, he is getting it partially right. He’s a Republican (sort of), and he made sure it died. We offer here a timeline of his inaction.
November 10, 2008: State Rep. Betty Brown (R-Terrell) introduces HB 125, “requiring a voter to present proof of identification.” It had 58 authors and co-authors.
December 15, 2008: Texas Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horeshoe Bay) introduces SB 362, “requiring a voter to present proof of identification.”
January 13, 2009: Texas Senate adopts rules allowing the voter ID issue to side-step the “blocker” rule that requires 2/3rds of the Senate’s approval before any vote can be considered. This means a majority could actually govern on the issue.
February 2, 2009: House legislation referred to the Texas House Committee on Elections. (Smith did nothing with the bill until a perfunctory hearing on April 7.)
March 10, 2009: Texas Senate hears the legislation and takes public testimony.
March 17, 2009: Texas Senate passes Voter ID 19 to 12 (a party-line vote).
March 31, 2009: Senate bill was referred to the House Elections Committee chaired by State Rep. Todd Smith.
April 6, 2009: House Committee on Elections holds a public hearing on voter ID.
April 7, 2009: House Committee on Elections leaves both the House and senate legislation as “pending” in committee.
April 7 – 27, 2009: Rep. Smith refuses to hold a Committee vote on the legislation.
April 28/29, 2009: 71 members of the Texas House sign a letter urging a vote on Voter ID legislation. Rep. Smith ignored it. Had he allowed a vote here, the legislation would have made it to the floor for a vote.
April 29 – May 10, 2009: Rep. Smith refuses to hold a committee vote on the Voter ID measure.
May 11, 2009: House Committee on Elections final reports out the legislation to the House Calendars Committee.
May 14, 2009: The legislation is filed with Calendars.
May 21, 2009: The Calendars Committee considers the legislation.
May 23, 2009: SB 362 was placed on the House Calendar, 5 days before the deadline.
May 29, 2009: The legislation was dead.
The delays Todd Smith allowed were significant, procedurally. Opponents knew they could not kill it with votes, they structured a “chub” that would waste time on the constitutional “clock” of the legislative session. Smith gave them that gift by delaying the legislation at every turn. Had Voter ID legislation moved out of his committee sooner, the chub would not have been possible.
Rep. Smith made sure that the legislation was slowed to an absolute crawl — more than a month passed between his committee hearing and his allowing a vote by the committee.
He has told the Fort Worth Star Telegram that “certain members in our party demanded we pass a version of the bill that simply did not have the votes.”
That’s only true because Smith and four other Republican withheld their votes! A full 71 House Republicans signed on in support; all that was needed to pass were five more votes — including Smith’s.
Most political observers agreed that had the vote gone to the House floor, it would have been overwhelmingly passed. Too many lawmakers in both parties couldn’t afford politically to be on the side of dishonest elections.
After all, 70 percent of Texans support requiring a photo ID when voting. Today, the state’s elections remain less secure because State Rep. Todd Smith stopped Voter ID.
LEARN MORE about how you can help stop Todd Smith by visiting a special site created by the Empower Texans PAC, StopToddSmith.com!
Pol. adv. paid for by the Empower Texans PAC, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Treasurer.