Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2011
Contact: Jeremy Warren, 512-463-0113

Ellis Laments Passage of Overly-Restrictive Voter ID Law

Efforts to amend bill to protect Texas voters fails

(Austin, Texas) — Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today lamented passage of Senate Bill 14, so-called Voter ID legislation that will make it significantly more difficult for hundreds of thousands of legally-registered Texans to exercise their constitutional right to vote. "We all agree that ensuring the integrity of the vote is extremely important," said Senator Ellis. "Because that right is extremely important, we need to be careful moving forward so that we don't create unnecessary barriers to a sacred, constitutional right.

"No one here is saying that having an ID unto itself at the polls is a bad thing," Ellis continued. "What we're saying is you must make sure that these proposed 'free' IDs are readily accessible. Unfortunately, everything we heard on the floor yesterday tells us that they won't be, and all efforts to ensure they would were voted down here today."

The fact is that SB 14 impacts potentially over one million Texans who could well be eligible to vote but will not be able to while doing nothing to increase access to now-mandated IDs. For instance:

"Texas has a long and sad history of making it difficult for people to vote," said Senator Ellis. "Men and women in this chamber repeatedly voted to keep people out of the voting booth. Decades later, history judges those men and women in a harsh light.

"Thanks to that history, our state remains under federal oversight," said Ellis. "If we are going to place more red tape between the voting booth and our constituents, I firmly believe it is our duty that we ensure it's a well thought out plan and protects the rights of all legal voters. We have not done that today. Instead, the Texas Senate has made it far more difficult for potentially hundreds of thousands of legal, registered voters to exercise their constitutional right. That is wrong. and it will be remembered."