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2009-03-18 / Front Page

Rep. Hopson co-authors 2 bills on voter ID

BY QUINTEN BOYD

State Rep. Chuck Hopson (D-Jacksonville) has authored and filed two bills that, if passed, will help quash voter fraud across the state.

The first bill requires picture identification on an individual's voter registration card.

"When a person signs up to vote, they have to bring in their passport or birth certificate," Rep. Hopson said. "The official will look at the documents, take a picture and put it on the voter registration card. That would take care of a whole lot."

The second bill will make it illegal for a person who has entered Texas illegally to impersonate a U.S. citizen. Anyone caught doing so, according to the bill, will be charged with a third degree felony.

The state Senate has been debating a photo ID bill. This bill, which is different from Rep. Hopson's proposed legislation, will require individuals to present a photo ID before voting.

"We'll have to see what kind of bill comes over (from the Senate)," he said. "I'm hoping we can make it tolerable enough to where all of us can vote on it, but we will probably have to change it up."

The two bills revolve around a contested school district election in Hidalgo County, located near the Texas-Mexico border.

Approximately 12 affidavits allege complaints ranging from election judges standing too close to voters to voter fraud. The most serious allegations state that several people were given a slate of candidates, $10 and someone else's voter registration card to cast a ballot.

The affidavits do not come without controversy, as those alleging the voter fraud were worded similarly and authenticated by the same notary.

Rep. Hopson, also the chairman of the House's general investigative committee, said that he could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

"I can't really talk about it since the matter is still under investigation," he said. "However, we do plan to have the results out next week."

Rep. Hopson also said that he is unaware of any illegal activities in elections in his district, which includes Houston, Rusk, Panola and Cherokee counties.

"I've been talking to registrars in my four counties and they are not aware of any voter fraud in any elections," he said. "However, if there is a perception, we need to know about it. That is why we are investigating (the incident in Hidalgo County)."

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