New Voter ID Bill Circulating

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _An updated voter ID plan in the Legislature would require most Texans to show photo identification before being allowed to cast a regular ballot. Exemptions would be for voters age 70 and over, the indigent and Texans who state a religious objection to having a photo ID _ provided they show their voter registration certificate.

The proposal by Rep. Todd Smith, who chairs the House Elections Committee, is stricter than previous versions. Smith's fellow Republicans have been pushing him to make the bill tougher. The legislation would also provide a two-year phase-in of the new rules, instead of four years as Smith had previously suggested. Most Democrats say the voter ID legislation is a partisan ploy to keep their base voters away from the polls. Party leaders were already leery of the new plan, saying public hearings should be held.