Politics

Texas House Approves New Voter ID Bill

The Texas House of Representatives gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to a new voter ID bill.

The legislation would include penalties of up to 10 years in prison for lying on the ID ownership affidavit, according to Texas Tribune.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the original voter ID measure into law in 2011. It was considered one of the nation’s strictest laws and opponents insisted it could exclude up to 600,000 voters.

The new Senate Bill 5, backed by Republican-dominated lawmakers, is intended to remedy flaws in the previous law. It allows those who can’t produce an authorized photo ID to show other documentation like a utility bill or bank statement.

Major changes to the bill aimed at revamping the state’s controversial voter identification law have caused a showdown in the final week of the Senate’s legislative session. Final votes on the bill will likely be held on Wednesday.

House Democrats sought to change that Tuesday, adding amendments before approving the bill in a 95-54 vote.  Amendments could mean the Senate will oppose the bill when it reaches the upper chamber.

Despite the changes Tuesday night, Democrats say the bill is discriminatory and will disproportionately affect minority communities.

“This ought to be an issue of constitutional rights,” said Democratic Rep. Helen Giddings. “This bill will deprive people of color of their rights.”

Others have criticized the bill as an attempt by state leaders to avoid being brought under federal oversight by the court.

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