Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Against his doctor's advice, a stooped and feeble Sen. Mario Gallegos arrives at the state Capitol each day, just to make sure the Senate does not take up a bill that would require voters to produce ID at the polls.

And when the rigors of the job start to wear on the Houston Democrat, whose body is trying to reject a liver transplanted four months ago, he retires to a hospital-style bed - donated by a Republican colleague - in a room next to the Senate chamber.

The Republicans pushing the voter ID bill say illegal immigrants are voting in Texas elections and must be stopped. But Democrats say thousands of legal residents will lose the right to vote because they lack proper identification. Opponents of the measure - including Gallegos, a Mexican-American - say minorities, the elderly and the poor are less likely than others to have driver's licenses or other documents.

Most of Gallegos' Houston-area constituents are black or Hispanic, and about a quarter of them live in poverty. About one in five speak little or no English.

With same day registration, plenty of vans, and a deal with the airlines, Democrats will soon import voters from all over the world. It's more cost-effective than running TV ads. And it's worth dying for.

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