Texas voter ID bill wins first round of approval

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Republicans won their first Texas Senate vote today on a bill that would impose tougher identification requirements on voters.

A special Senate panel, which includes all 31 senators and Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, approved the legislation along straight party lines in a 20-12 vote.

The decision all but assures the voter ID plan will pass and be sent to the Texas House as early as Monday.

Democrats have promised a legal challenge if the bill ultimately passes. They've compared the proposal to a modern-day poll tax.

Republicans say the ID requirements, which would take effect in time for the 2010 elections, are necessary to stop voter fraud.

Texans already must show either a voter registration card or other identification. Republicans want to add the requirement of a photo ID or alternatives that establish identity.

The Voter ID bill is SB362.