Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee, filed Senate Bill 5 to update the state’s Voter ID law. The chamber’s other 19 Republican are listed as co-authors. The bill would largely codify the “reasonable impediment” declaration that was ordered by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos but would explicitly subject individuals to prosecution on third-degree felony perjury charges for “a false statement or false information on the declaration.”
The bill does not change the types of photo identification required but adds several non-photo identifications that are “acceptable as proof of identification,” including a voter registration certificate, current utility bill or bank statement, government check and paycheck. The bill explicitly prohibits an election officer from questioning “the reasonableness of an impediment sworn to by a voter.” Voters using the reasonable impediment declarations would be able to cast regular – not provisional – ballots, as they did during the 2016 general election.
The bill also directs the Secretary of State to implement mobile units so voters can obtain election identification certificates, a form of acceptable photo identification.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the state’s appeal last month, the Legislature appears to have little room to re-tighten the law beyond specifying the perjury offense.
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