In 2011, Texas passed a restrictive voter ID bill, and ongoing litigation continues to sort out the future of the law. But with local elections coming up in less than two months, everyone needs to plan as if the law will be in effect this November.
The week of September 16 is Protect Your Right to Vote Awareness Week, with events across Houston to help get you prepared for the implementation of voter ID and other new election rules. If you've got questions, they've got answers.
This email will also provide the essential information that you and your family need to make sure you're not turned away from the ballot box because you lack the required identification. If you find it useful, please forward it to your friends or "like" it above to post it to your Facebook account.
By working together, we can ensure all eligible voters are able to have their voice heard on November 5.
Voter ID: What you need to know
Voter ID requires all voters to present one of the following forms of photo identification in order to be eligible to vote:
- Driver's license;
- Election identification certificate;
- Personal identification card;
- Concealed handgun license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety;
- U.S. military identification card containing the person's photograph;
- U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person's photograph; or
- U.S. passport. With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, all of the forms of identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented at the polling place.
There are very limited exceptions to the photo identification requirement:
- Disabilities: voters with a disability may apply with the county voter registrar for an exemption. Those who obtain a disability exemption will be allowed to vote by presenting a voter registration certificate reflecting the exemption.
- Religious objection or natural disaster: other exemptions include voters who have a consistent religious objection to being photographed and voters who do not have any photo identification as a result of certain natural disasters as declared by the President of the United States or the Texas Governor. These voters may cast a provisional ballot at the polls and, in order for their vote to count, must sign an affidavit attesting to those facts in the presence of the county voter registrar within six days of the election date.
If the name on your photo ID doesn't match the name on your voter registration card, click here and update the name through the Texas Secretary of State's office by October 7.
Voters who show up at their polling place and discover they do not have a valid form of photo identification will be able to cast a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot, however,
will not count unless the voter takes additional action after election day to prove they have the proper photo identification. In order for their vote to count, these voters have up to six days after the election to present to the county voter registrar appropriate photo identification.
Election Identification Certificate
If you or a family member do not have one of the forms of photo identification listed above, there is a free option available. The change in law creates a new form of photo identification called an election identification certificate, which the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue.
Registered voters or those eligible to register who do not have a required form of photo identification may apply for the election identification certificate at any DPS driver license office. There is no fee for the certificate.
DPS just announced that they will be offering Saturday hours at select driver license offices to provide election identification certificates, including 10 locations in Harris County.
Visit www.gotIDtexas.org for additional information. You can also contact the Texas Secretary of State's office or your county's voter registrar:
- Texas Secretary of State: 1-800-252-VOTE
- Harris County Elections: 713-368-2000
- Fort Bend County Elections: 281-341-8670