By Curt Buckley
Texans are currently deciding the issues important to them and the candidates they think best represent their views. Early voting is underway and continues through Oct. 31. Election Day is Nov. 4.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld a voter ID law means all Texans will be required to present one of seven approved forms of photo identification in order to vote. Some common forms of approved ID cards are a driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety or a United States passport. In addition, the ID must be current, and the name on it must match the name on the official list of registered voters in order to vote.
An approved form of identification that has expired will only be a problem if it expired more than 60 days prior to voting. A voter with identification more than 60 days expired will still be allowed to vote, but it will be a provisional ballot. The voter will then have six days to show the county voter registrar’s office the renewed form of ID or the ballot will be tossed out.
Also, the name on the ID must match the official list of registered voters. A provision in the voter ID law states that the name on the approved ID must be “significantly similar” to the name on the registered voter list. Complications can arise from this provision for Texans who have recently married or divorced. In this case, a sworn affidavit attesting that the voter is who they claim to be may be required. An affidavit may also be necessary for Texans with names that have a common variance such as William and Bill. The ID might say “Bill,” but the official list of registered voters could have “William” on it instead, or vice versa.
Addresses on the presented ID and voter registration card should be kept current because election officials may use it as a component in deciding whether or not a name is “significantly similar.”
While the vast majority of Texans have to present an approved form of ID at the polls, those who have a “permanent disability exemption” from the county registrar do not. To be eligible for this exemption, an application must be submitted to the county registrar with written documentation of the disability from either the Social Security Administration or the Veteran Affairs Department. In addition, the exempt voter must state that they do not have a valid form of identification.
According to the Texas Secretary of State, the following are all forms of identification approved for presentation at the polls:
- Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
- Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS;
- Texas personal identification card issued by DPS;
- Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS;
- United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph;
- United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph;
- United States passport.
Knowing and following the current law of the land is the easiest way to exercise the right to vote in a way that ensures it will count.
For more information on the law, visit www.votetexas.gov or call 1-800-252-VOTE (8683).