New Texas Photo Voter ID Requirements
Background: During the 2011 legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed SB 14, a bill implementing a photo identification requirement for Texas voters. The Department of Justice denied preclearance, prohibiting the legislation from going into effect in 2012. The State of Texas then sued the Department of Justice in federal court asking for DOJ's decision to be overruled. The D.C. court also denied preclearance, stating in their opinion that Texas’ photo voter id law imposed “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor” and that it would disproportionally harm minority voters. Unfortunately, due to the Supreme Court invalidating Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County v Holder case, the State is now allowed to implement the photo voter id law. It is estimated that approximately 400,000 – 800,000 Texas voters lacked the required forms of id. Combatting the effects of this new voting barrier will require a massive, coordinated effort to educate and assist voters.
Acceptable forms of photo ID for voting:
With the exception of the citizenship certificate, all must be current or expired within 60 days.
Voters with a disability may apply with the county voter registrar for a permanent exemption. The application must contain written documentation from either the U.S. Social Security Administration evidencing the applicant’s disability, or from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs evidencing a disability rating of at least 50 percent. In addition, the applicant must state that he or she has no valid form of photo identification. Those who obtain a disability exemption will be allowed to vote by presenting a voter registration certificate reflecting the exemption.
Voters who have a consistent religious objection to being photographed and voters who do not have any valid form of photo identification as a result of certain natural disasters as declared by the President of the United States or the Texas Governor, may vote a provisional ballot, appear at the voter registrar’s office within six (6) calendar days after election day, and sign an affidavit swearing to the religious objection or natural disaster, in order for your ballot to be counted.
More details can be found on the Texas Secretary of State’s website at http://www.votetexas.gov/register-tovote/need-id
If you do not have any of the forms of photo id listed above, you can get a Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS. However, you will need proof of citizenship, proof of identity, and you will need to be registered to vote. Details on how to obtain an EIC can be found on the DPS website at http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/electionID.htm.
Empower The Vote Texas will be conducting trainings for voters and activists about the new requirements as well as assisting voters who do not have any of the required forms of id in obtaining the documents necessary to get a free EIC.
If you are having trouble obtaining the required id, please contact us at 512-298-2014 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When a voter arrives at a polling location, the voter will be asked to present one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo ID. Election officials will now be required by State law to determine whether the voter’s name on the identification provided matches the name on the official list of registered voters (“OLRV”). After a voter presents their ID, the election worker will compare it to the OLRV. If the name on the ID matches the name on the list of registered voters, the voter will follow the regular procedures for voting.
If the name does not match exactly but is “substantially similar” to the name on the OLRV, the voter will be permitted to vote as long as the voter signs an affidavit stating that the voter is the same person on the list of registered voters.If a voter does not have proper identification, the voter will still be permitted to vote provisionally. The voter will have (six) 6 days to present proper identification to the county voter registrar, or the voter’s ballot will be rejected.
The “substantially similar” names protocols can be found at http://tinyurl.com/subsimname. They are incredibly subjective. So even if you have one of the required forms of id, and it’s current, you could still have a problem if your name on the id is not exactly the same as your name on the voter registration list.