Last week, I spotlighted the constitutional amendment propositions on the November 5 ballot. This week, I’ll focus on what you’ll need to cast your ballot — please read carefully, because the rules have changed!
In the 2011 Legislative Session, a law was passed requiring voters to present a photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot. I opposed this law — while most of us may take having a photo ID for granted, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates around 600,000 to 800,000 registered voters in Texas lack a DPS-issued identification.
For many, obtaining photo ID may be a real hardship, either financially or physically. The poor, elderly, people with disabilities, women, and racial minorities are all more likely than others to not possess an ID.
I’m not going to re-fight those arguments here. For now, Voter ID is state law, so I want you to know how to comply with it so you can exercise your right to vote. (Most of the following information comes from the Texas Secretary of State’s office at votetexas.gov/register-to-vote/need-id/ or in Spanish at votetexas.gov/es/registrese-para-votar/necesita-identificacion/.)
These forms of ID are acceptable at the voting booth:
Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (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
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.
Note that first form of ID on the list — Election Identification Certificate (EIC). That’s new, created by the legislature for people who don’t have any of the other forms, so they may comply with this law. (If you already have one of the other IDs, you are not eligible for an EIC.)
EICs are available from DPS driver license offices during regular business hours, on Saturdays at select locations, and at EIC mobile stations traveling throughout the state. The Saturday hours and mobile stations will be available only for processing EICs. There are five offices in Bexar County:
The San Antonio-Leon Valley Mega Center, 7410 Huebner Road, Leon Valley (DPS recommends this one)
1258 Babcock Road
1803 South General McMullen
6502 South New Braunfels Avenue
1633 Pat Booker Road
For more information on locations for obtaining an EIC, go to www.dps.texas.gov or call 512-424-2600.
Voters with a disability may apply for a permanent exemption from the law. For information on these exemptions and exceptions, call the Bexar County Voter Registration office at 210-335-6625.
Now, here’s the really important part: When you go to vote, CAST A VOTE, NO MATTER WHAT! Here is why:
Perhaps an election official will tell you that you don’t have the proper form of ID, or the name on your ID does not match the name on the voter registration rolls. This is especially a problem for women, who may have just gotten married or divorced or use another name for professional reasons.
Or maybe you have a religious objection to being photographed, or perhaps you lost your ID due to a natural disaster (as declared by the president or governor).
In all these cases or any other where your eligibility to vote is disputed, you may cast a provisional ballot. You then must appear at the voter registrar’s office within six days of the election and sign an affidavit swearing to your eligibility or to these exceptions in order for your vote to be counted.
Please, if you are registered to vote, don’t let anything stop you from exercising your right to do so. Many brave men and women in our armed forces fought to keep our for our democracy intact— don’t let them down.
State Senator Leticia Van de Putte represents District 26 in Bexar County.