Will Texans have to pay to vote?

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Republicans want to make photos a form of acceptable ID required for voters to cast their ballots. The bill has state democrats fuming.

The issue is not only just about the picture inside your wallet, but also the cash.

She's not registered to vote, but Cynthia Blackwood says if the proposed bill becomes law she probably will not even register.

"It would hurt me because I don't have the money to do it," said Blackwood.

Part of proposed state Senate Bill 362 provides for a $15 fee for a personal identification certificate. Just one way voters without a photo ID, registration card or valid utility bill could cast their ballot.

"The republican party is re-instituting a poll tax," said David Henderson, chair of the Smith County democratic party. Politics is a lot like physics. For every action, there's a reaction and I think that there will be a significant reaction to this if the republicans pass it."

At the polls specifically, Henderson says the poor, the elderly, and those without licenses may not show up at all. In a statement, the Texas Conservative Coalition wrote, "When non-citizens, the dead or the unqualified stay on voter lists, illegal votes can be cast which deny legal voters their civil rights."

State Senator Kevin Eltife said the bill is just a small step.

"I personally think it's a good step in the right direction," said Eltife. "I think we have to do something to tighten up the registration process."

"The incidence of voter fraud in Texas is a statistical zero," said Henderson. "If there is a requirement for photo ID, then no, it's not a small step."

Photo ID's are already required in seven states, and if the law hits the books here, Blackwood said she will just steer clear of the polls.

The debate is expected to last well into the night on Tuesday with testimonies scheduled to come from both sides.