SENATE'S 2/3rds RULE STOPS VOTER ID BILL
Rule requiring a supermajority to debate, stalls measure supported by a supermajority of Texans
AUSTIN, TX -- During this morning's session, the Texas Senate considered House Bill 218 which would require a voter to present "proof of identification when offering to vote." When the Senate's vote to "suspend the regular order of business" was finally tabulated, the motion failed on a 20 to 11 vote (one vote shy of the required 2/3rds).
Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), long an opponent of the 2/3rds rule, offered the following statement:
"It has been said the 2/3rds rule ensures compromise among members in the Texas Senate. Any person witnessing today's proceedings would beg to differ.
"When those opposed to voter ID did not have enough members on the floor to block consideration, a vote was called for, points of order were offered and sustained, votes were taken and reconsidered and members who were absent suddenly appeared. After a reconsideration of the vote, the 2/3rds threshold was not achieved.
"I am not aware of any other deliberative body that requires a super-duper majority to debate legislation.
"I believe the Texas Senate should allow the public to witness debates on the floor, votes being taken and the majority prevailing. Far too often, we witness legislation die for lack of a 2/3rds vote even though the legislation is supported by a majority of Texans and a majority of Texas Senators. Why is the 2/3rds rule ignored for congressional redistricting, but enforced to block legislation to secure elections in those districts?
"Whomever is in the majority, Republicans or Democrats, the will of their voters need to be served. Sooner or later, the will of the majority will be respected in the Texas Senate. Hopefully, we will be in the majority then."
According to a April 1-4, 2007 survey of 1,001 registered voters in Texas, by Baselice and Associates, a vast majority of voters favor a voter identification requirement. The survey found 91% "favor requiring registered voters to show a drivers license or other photo identification to ensure that they are U.S. citizens before they are allowed to vote."
Editor's note: Readers are encouraged to view this morning's session by clicking here and then May 15ths "Senate Session - Part 2". HB 218 is one of the first measures to be considered.