Liveblogging Voter ID in the Senate
12:35am: As the Senate continues into the early morning hours, I'm retiring to get a little shut eye. Senators will NOT vote tonight, they plan to take their first vote on this after they return tomorrow, a time which has yet to be determined. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess Voter ID passes on a vote of 19-12 (the R to D split in the Senate).

11:59pm: We've wandered into whether Gerry Hebert stole maps from the redistricting room. Hebert says he never took any maps. And as the clock strikes midnight, Senators take a break to allow a change out of stenographers. I think I'm hanging it up, so keep following the DMN, Statesman and their reporter tweets for more.

11:54pm: Tommy Williams points out that Hebert represented the Democrats in the 2003 redistricting. So we're back on redistricting. I can see the ties between that and this issue, but it's getting pretty late, shouldn't senators try and stay on task?

11:45pm: As a few hangers on from the public continue waiting for a chance to testify, Hegar questioning Hebert on one particular legal case of Hebert's in which his client was prosecuted by the AG for mail-in voter fraud.

11:37pm: We've wandered off into redistricting, another radioactive partisan issue. Wentworth questioning Hebert on the R to D divide of the Texas Congressional delegation... we've totally wandered off into another partisan issue.

11:17pm: Gerald Hebert (former fed prosecutor at US DOJ) now testifying against Voter ID, after Mr Taylor of GA doesn't get any questions.

"Republicans in the state of Texas today are using their majority status to enact legislation that can't be justified by urgency or need," Hebert says, right off the bat. There's some applause in the chamber that was quickly silenced by Duncan.

11:08pm: Witness from Georgia Secretary of State's office is now testifying about his experience as an elections administrator after Georgia adopted its voter ID requirements in 2006. Says GA trial lawyers have failed to find "even a single case of disenfrachisement" as a result of voter ID. He's knocking down each argument against voter ID based on what Georgia saw in 2007 and 2008.

10:21pm: Hinojosa questioning a witness from Georgia, which is one of two states that enacted controversial voter ID requirements. The witness is rocking the bow tie, which we really don't see enough of at the Texas Capitol. Not enough seersucker suits, either. Those were far more common when I covered the South Carolina general assembly.

10:15pm: Must continue watching this from home -- just finished the 10pm hits for KVUE and KENS. Stay tuned, if you're still into this...

9:34pm: Senator Williams questioning Toby Moore, statistician from Carter-Baker Commission, on whether requiring photo ID would present a constitutional problem. Cites Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that upheld Indiana's photo ID laws.

9:05pm: "We're going to go until we get all public testimony in," said Mike Wintemute, Comm Dir for the Lt. Gov. "But there's not going to be a vote tonight."

8:48pm: ALL NIGHTER FOLKS, Duncan informed Van de Putte they are bringing in additional court reporters to go into the wee hours of the morning.

8:45pm:OK fourth called witness is here, it's Toby Moore who was on the Carter-Baker Commission, speaking against SB 362. He's a statistician, so this stuff is not going to be very sexy, if you will. Meanwhile, state Sen. Glenn Hegar has taken his contact lenses out, preparing for an all nighter.


8:39pm: Just went upstairs to the gallery, where a handful of public witnesses are trying to stay long enough to get to testify. "We've been really frustrated about all the arbiting and back and forth between the senators," said Sheila Dean. "I've been here since nine am."

8:25pm: Gallery has really emptied out now, and no one from the public has gotten to speak because this has gone on so long. We're still only on the third of 15 witnesses.

7:57pm: Third witness begins. It's Cameron Quinn, who was not ON the Carter-Barker Commission but advised the commission, speaking FOR SB 362. "Photo ID... can enhance confidence," said Quinn. She reads from the Commission's report: "Any required photo ID must be widely available, easily accessible and free of cost."

7:42pm: Wang's knocking down why alternate forms of ID like utility bills may not work for some folks, either. It costs $22 to get a birth certificate, a marriage license is $20. "There are difficulties in obtaining all these types of IDs," she said.

7:31pm: Tova Andrea Wang testifying against SB 362. "This whole notion that everyone has ID is untrue," she says. "There's a lot of poor people who don't." Also says US Dept of Justice has never brought a case of voter impersonation fraud.

7:27pm: Some debate now between Ellis and HVS over whether Hans' group, The Heritage Foundation, is "conservative" or "extremely conservative". For the record we are still on the first invited witness. First of sixteen. Yes.

7:21pm: Ellis now questioning Hans, sarcastically asks him whether he's been in Texas before, knowing that Hans participated in the 2003 redistricting which Tom Delay had a hand in.

7:16pm: Sen. Williams citing a study from the University of Missouri (go Tigers) that shows higher Democratic turnout at the precinct level after voter ID policies were enacted in Indiana.

7:10pm: Texas Weekly's Ross Ramsey has some extra time on his hands. He's turning this Senate spectacle into cartoons, which some will argue is appropriate.


7:03pm: Committee of the Whole comes back and von Spakovsky is now taking questions from state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands. The Austin Chron sums up the earlier questioning of Hans (heretofore known as HVS) since I was off the floor.

6:56pm: State Sen. Jane Nelson says she's changed from heels to flats, and then does the math for us. 16 invited witnesses before we get to public testimony. Of the 16, only one is finished. Each testimony takes at least ten minutes, plus unlimited testimony. So we're here for at least three more hours, if we don't count questioning OR public testimony.

6:48pm: I'm back after a break to find some food and consume it. Some tough questioning for the first expert witness, Hans Van Spakovsky. Shapleigh challenged him on "real" cases of voter fraud. No cases of voter impersonation fraud (which photo ID would address) has been prosecuted in Texas.

Han Van Spakovsky (say that three times fast) testifying

5:51pm: "It's hard to prosecute something when you don't have the tools to detect it," von Spakovsky of The Heritage Foundation says. He lays out several examples of fraud from around the country.

5:47pm: Nearly eight hours after Senators got onto the floor, invited testimony begins. First person to testify is in favor of the bill, Hans von Spakovsky. As Selby points out, he was denied a confirmation vote by U.S. Senate years ago http://budurl.com/mhmx

5:36pm: Van de Putte now questioning Fraser, brings up concern about pictures on IDs not matching up with current look of voters. She says poll workers may disenfranchise folks whose pictures don't match.

5:28pm: The plan here is to hit KVUE in Austin and KENS-TV in San Antonio with live shots at 6pm, and then I'll head back to the floor for more action throughout the evening. Stay tuned on television or on this here blog.

5:07pm: West bringing up more issues with Fraser's bill during questioning. Meanwhile I just read this from the Texas Observer's Floor Pass blog:

Rep. Chuck Hopson filed an attempt at a compromise on Voter ID in the form of House Bill 2513. The bill requires the secretary of state to coordinate with the Department of Public Safety and other state agencies to obtain photographs that would be placed on individuals' voter registration certificates, which voters have to present at the polls.
4:50pm: We're back from the Senate's quick break. West jokes with Fraser, "Can you hear me now?" Fraser responds, "If you use your Barry White voice, I can hear ya."

4:28pm: Davis trying to pin down Fraser on whether his bill provides any mobile stations or additional offices to get people photo IDs. (The answer is no, but Fraser has not answered the question directly.)

4:17pm: That was longer than 45 minutes, sorry. Apparently my television writing skills have atrophied. Freshman state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, is now questioning Senator Fraser. I guess every D is going to question him before we get to testimony. We're back on what was and what was not in the Carter Baker editorials in the New York Times. Here's a link to their February 2008 editorial.

2:49pm: I'm signing off for the next 45 minutes so I can focus on my day job -- the television story. Be back later. Follow @gardnerselby on Twitter, or the DMN Trailblazers blog for more updates.

2:42pm: Breaking for an estimated ten minutes so the court reporter can rest her typing fingers. Dewhurst comes over to say hi.


2:35pm: Watson points out the section in bill for education on the new change will only be an addition to the Secretary of State's website. Fraser says everyone in the body will be sympathetic to include funding, later on, to make sure voters are education.

"So you anticipate there will be some fiscal note, to this bill?" Watson asks.
"This bill has no fiscal note," Fraser said.
"So under the current bill, there will be no way to educate voters on the new requirements except they would be posted on the Secretary of State's website," Watson said.
"Yes, there will be education sent out with each registration card," said Fraser.
"So that is the substance and sum of what the education will be on new registration cards?" Watson says.

2:30pm: Watson giving Fraser the trial lawyer treatment. One trial lawyer told me once he never asks a question he doesn't already know the answer to first. Fraser says 98.5% of the people who registered to vote in 2006 used a photo ID in order to register, proving ID isn't a problem for most Texas voters.

Watson asks, do we know the racial breakdown of the 1.5% that didn't have photo ID?

2:18pm: Fraser and Watson are talking over each other during questioning, Duncan has to stop them from "talking over each other" because the court reporter can't get it all.

2:14pm: Fraser has an op-ed from Baker of his own. It's more recent and does call for some sort of photo ID to vote.

2:13pm: Lucio refers to an op-ed from Jimmy Carter and James Baker (who headed the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform) saying that until there was universal ID, then it would be premature to make photo ID a condition of voting.

2:05pm: Fraser backs up his argument that voter ID won't affect the voting rolls by bringing up how vote totals in Indiana (strict voter ID) increased in 2008. "Largest increase in Democratic turnout in the nation," he said.

1:50pm: Gallegos formally tags the bill. The tag goes down in flames. Fraser now formally laying out the bill. "Voter fraud is not only alive and well in the US, it's alive and well in Texas, and that's why we're here today," Fraser said. "Voter fraud breeds distrust in our government. In a close election, even a small amount of fraud can make a difference."

1:34pm: Williams and West now sparring over whether the posting time was appropriate.

1:24pm: Gallegos appealing the ruling of the chair on the point of order. Williams moves to table the motion to table. Williams withdraws it upon realizing you can't do that in committee. West goes, "With all due respect Mr. Chairman, I'm trying to figure out what rules apply and what rules don't. I thought the Senate rules applied..."

1:20pm: More procedural delaying tactics. Shapleigh now raises other questions about the overruled point of order.

1:12pm: Point of order is overruled on grounds that the rules don't apply to meetings of committee of a whole. West gets him to clarify, "So essentially, the posting notice does not apply to committee of the whole?"

1:10pm: As we await a ruling on this point of order, Texas Weekly's Ross Ramsey jokes with State Sen. Fraser, who is carrying this bill. "Hey Senator, how's your bill going?" Fraser laughs.

Duncan consulting with the Democratic bill taggers.

12:53pm: Duncan lays out SC 362, recognizes Fraser to introduce the bill. West rises to object to further consideration on a point of order, saying it violates Rule 11.18 (not enough notice).

12:49pm: Thirty minutes after going into a five minute break, Senate returns to "resolve into committee of the whole", which is to say this is a committee meeting where all 31 senators take part. State Sen. Robert Duncan is at the dais. He's laying out some ground rules for public testimony.

12:13pm: Take a look at the Senate rules, as we head back into debate. Democratic senators have tagged the bill, hoping for a 48 hour delay, as outlined on page 97 of the rules:

Rule 11.19. (a) Except as provided in Subsection (d) of this rule, upon the presentation of a written request to the Secretary of the Senate on a form provided by the Secretary, a Senator shall receive at least 48 hours advance written notice of the time and place set for a public hearing on a specific bill or resolution which has been referred to a Senate committee.
So as I understand it, Democratic senators could tag on a technicality -- they got 48 hour notice on a 9am start time today, but instead the session gaveled in at 10am (a change that was made just last night). They did not get 48 hour notice on the 10am start time.

11:57am: Breaking for five, then coming back for C of Whole.

11:47am: Shapleigh concerned that the computer glitch is not connected to the live internet stream of the Senate. They are not connected. Livestream is going.

Whitmire votes

11:44am: Computer glitch creating a problem for voting. They can't use the electronic voting systems on their desks and instead will hold up hands to vote on whether to go into C of Whole on Voter ID. D's vote no, R's vote yes. 19 Ayes, 12 Nays.

11:33am: Shapleigh now questioning Duncan about how the Lt. Gov participates in the C of Whole. We still haven't actually started committee of the whole. Does Lt. Gov have right to debate in C of Whole on amendments?

11:25am: At this rate we're going to actually start the committee of the whole meeting around four o'clock in the afternoon.

11:22am: "I can't believe there's any distortion in the media," state Sen Duncan says, sarcastically. "They almost always get it right."

11:19am: Some assorted talk about possible litigation and the AG, and why he's not testifying.

11:17am: Why do Senators say "reduced" to writing? That hurts.

11:05am: "This is not about Voter ID. This bill echoes a history of voter suppression in our state, unfortunately it's not just minorities that are threatened," said Van de Putte. "It threatens seniors and low income Texans who can't drive or can't afford to get [an ID]. It would force thousands of poll workers to enforce voter ID requirements. Are you aware it's more likely for a person to be struck by lightning than for a person to impersonate a voter?"

11:01am:Duncan recommending that GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott not testify on the legality of the issue, despite Democrats desires that the "state's lawyer" participate.

"The AG did participate in this very piece of legislation on this very issue last session in the House," said Van de Putte.

10:59am: Van de Putte gets several assurances from Duncan to keep the entire debate public, via videotape and stenography.

A look at the gallery. Folks who support Voter ID were asked by the GOP to wear red when they came today.

10:54am: State Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, says they will allow both sides' expert witnesses to testify, and do it in the order of one pro, one con.

"One of the things that I am going to ask the Senate to enforce is that we not have applause or demonstrations in the gallery," he said.

10:46am: "We went right into the weeds," said my friend J-Mo. In this case, weeds means procedural hijinks. Van de Putte pointing out to Duncan, who will lead today's Committee of the Whole meeting, that Democrats wanted to address other pieces of legislation important to Texans, besides voter ID.

10:40am: A note about today's live photoblog. We encourage your comments/ideas. I'll be connected via gtalk at, on twitter @elise who or @elise live, and you can always leave comments below.

10:39am: Senator Shapiro interrupts the awkwardness on the floor with a introduction of a visiting high school class. Lucky Hillcrest High School, they get to be here for Voter ID.

10:32am: State Sen. Royce West rises to ask about the more obscure rule. Dewhurst says they'll have to go back and look at the record. Silence.

"You're obviously asking a hypothetical question," said Dewhurst. "Chair will look at current set of rules, precedence in the record in the Senate, look for precedence in the House of Representatives, in the US Congress, and other parliamentary rules and laws to make the best judgement possible."

10:23am: There's a quirk in the law that allows Senators to "tag" any bill in committee, and the rules call for a 48 hour delay after the bill is tagged. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte says the ball's now in the Republicans' court -- they can decide to honor the rules/tag, or they can find another procedural way to get around it.

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