Another issue that we discussed at the Texas Interfaith Advocacy Conference was the voter I.D. law, which will be a serious impediment to hundreds of voters who do not already have a photo I.D. Because 80 counties in Texas have no Department of Public Safety, where they can get an approved State I.D., people in those counties may have to travel 100 miles and over to a DPS office to get an acceptable I.D. And then the I.D. will be good only for voting; it will not be a valid identification for any other activity.
Having a voter registration certificate (voter registration card) is better. This card is available through the voter’s county Election Administration office—and every county has such an office. This voter registration card can be used as identification in any situation—so we need to urge people to register to vote so they will have a widely accepted form of identification.
HOWEVER, as of now the voter must also have photo identification; a voter registration certificate alone is not sufficient. One must have a photo I.D. and the acceptable photo ID’s are:
· 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
If a voter has ONE of these photo I.D.’s, no other identification is required; however, four of the acceptable photo I.D.’s are available only through the DPS office—therefore, many, many voters must travel many miles to get acceptable identification. And, 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 for voter qualification at the polling place.
Another issue with identification is that if a voter has the voter registration certificate and so must present also a photo I.D., the names on the two pieces must clearly refer to the same person. So—for example—if one piece has a woman’s first and maiden name and the other has her first and married name without reference to the maiden name, then the judge may refuse to accept the I.D.’s. The woman could still vote a provisional ballot but not a regular ballot. It will be best if both names are exactly the same.
The legality of this voter I.D. requirement is still in question, but as of now it is law. As social action advocates, we need to be sure all voters know to be prepared when they next go to the polls.