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Photo ID required now to vote in Texas elections
(10/03/13)

by Dolores Hamilton
Lori Bohannon, County Clerk and Voter Registrar, reminds voters that photo identification will now be required for voting in person, so if you plan to vote in the Nov. 5 general election, you’ll need to bring your photo ID.

For the first time, voters will be required to present a valid form of photo identification to cast a ballot. In the past, a voter registration card was all that was needed.

“We are working to make sure our voters understand the new ID requirements and have all the information they need to cast their ballots,” Bohannon said.

A voter will be required to show one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location before the voter will be permitted to cast a vote:

• Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
• Texas election Identification Certificate issued by DPS;
• Texas Concealed Handgun License issued by DPS;
• United States Military Identification Card containing the person’s photograph;
• United States Passport; and
• United States Citizenship Certificate containing the person’s photograph.

With the exception of the U.S. Citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented at the polling place.

This photo ID requirement is for voters casting a ballot in person, not by mail. Voters age 65 and older may vote by mail.

Election officials are encouraging voters to update their voter registrations to reflect the names on their IDs. Voters may use IDs that do not exactly match the name on their voter registration card if the names are substantially similar, but will have to sign an affidavit stating they are the same person.

Voters may look up their registration at votetexas.gov and if their name is not an exact match they can update their voter registration online at votetexas.gov.

“By preparing now, voters can help make sure voting goes smoothly when it come times for the election,” Bohannon suggested.

To check and update their registrations, voters can visit VoteTexas.gov or Wichita County Voter Registration office or call 940-766-8174.

For more information about photo ID requirements including exemptions, visit www.votetexas.gov. Information on how to obtain an election identification certificate if you do not have another form can be found at www.dps.texas.gov.

Photo ID was first required by a law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. But a federal court in Washington ruled in 2012 that the law violated the Voting Rights Act, saying it would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens” on the poor - including racial minorities who are disproportionately more likely to live in poverty.

That ruling effectively blocked implementation of the new law, since Section 5 of the Voting Rights act requires certain jurisdictions with a history of discrimination, including Texas, to get “pre-clearance” by the Department of Justice before any voting law can be implemented.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision struck down Section 4 of the act - a section that determined which jurisdictions would be required to get “pre-clearance.” That meant lawmakers could not use the requirements that had been in place previously, and Texas’ new photo ID law could go into effect.

Texas moved forward to implement the photo ID law in spite of a Justice Department lawsuit claiming it violates other parts of the Voting Rights Act, and in November the law will be enforced at the polls.