AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Texas Capitol was filled with the commotion surrounding onehouse members’ comments made during a hearing over the VoterID bill. The remarks Rep. Brown made during the hearing of analready controversial debate resulted in an increased interest.These now infamous words have forced Ramey Ko, the receiving end ofthe statements, to speak out in response. Ko stopped by the KXANstudio to open up about the incident that made Saturday NightLive’s Weekend Update.
Ramey Ko is the man who testified last Wednesday against theVoter ID bill before the House Elections committee, which includesRepresentative Betty Brown. Ko told lawmakers that Asian-Americansthat live in states that required a photo ID at the polls werebeing denied the right to vote because the name on theiridentification card and the name on the voter rolls sometimes didnot match.
"Chinese, Japanese and Korean names are not written with theEnglish alphabet and frequently have multiple parts," said Ko."When they transliterate these names, there are frequentlyinconsistencies."
Apparently, not fully understanding the problem, Brown offeredup a suggestion that inspired gasps throughout the hearing room."Well, rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese, as Iunderstand, it's a rather difficult language," said Brown. "Do youthink it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name thatwe could deal with more readily here?"
When Ko told her how changing names is actually the probleminstead of the solution, Brown tried to explain the reasoningbehind her suggestion.
"This is something that would make it a lot easier both for youand poll workers if there was some name you could adopt just forthese identification purposes that would be easier for Americans todeal with," said Brown. Many found these statements to beculturally insensitive, including the Texas Democratic Party.
Since the incident Rep. Brown has apologized to many, includingKo personally. He told Jenny Hoff in their Sunday morning interviewthat overall, he is glad the topic is getting attention. Ko said hehas hopes this helps educate the public about the issues somenaturalized Asian Americans face and the stereotypes that stillexist.
Stipulations of the Bill
Under current law, to vote a regular ballot, voters are onlyrequired to present a voter registration certificate to a pollworker.
SB 362 would require all voters present a valid form of photoidentification to the polls. If a person does not have a state IDor driver's license or other form of photo identification, theycould be bring in two other forms of approved identificationinstead (utility bill, cable bill, etc).
The bill mandates the Secretary of State educate the public onthe new voting law by posting a notice on the website and on thewebsites of local polling locations. The bill also mandates theTexas Department of Public Safety not charge people who want toobtain a state issued ID solely for the purpose of voting.
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