Election officials will be in Tarrant County for two days this week to help local voters get the ID cards they’ll need to cast ballots in November’s election.Mobile stations will be set up in four locations today and tomorrow for Texans who don’t already have photo ID to present at the polls. “It’s a great thing to bring that service closer to the people who might need it,” said Steve Raborn, Tarrant County’s election administrator. “We hear there are some people who might not have proper identification for voting. “This is a great opportunity to get that before the election.”The Nov. 5 election will be the first statewide election in which Texans are required to show their photo IDs because of a law passed by the Republican-led state Legislature two years ago.Many Texans already have the photo identification they need to vote — a Texas driver’s license, personal identification card, election identification certificate, concealed handgun license, military ID with photo, U.S. citizenship certificate with photo or a U.S. passport, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s office.Those ID cards must be up to date, or no more than 60 days expired.For those who don’t have photo identification, state lawmakers stipulated that a newly created Election Identification Certificate — which is similar to a driver’s license or state ID card, but is only good for casting ballots — would be issued for free to any voter who needs it.So far, only 10 of these cards has been issued statewide, according to Texas Department of Public Safety data.Normally, Texans who need the election ID would go to a driver’s license office to get their cards. Several of these offices are open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Nov. 2 just for Election Identification Certificates.The temporary mobile stations, which will be manned by state election and public safety workers, are geared to make it easier and more convenient for those who need the cards to get them.“Texans now have several different options to obtain an EIC if they don’t already have the necessary photo identification to cast their vote,” said Cynthia Leon, chairwoman of the Texas Public Safety Commission.To get the Election Identification Certificate, Texans need to show proof of citizenship and identity, such as a birth certificate, plus two other forms of identification that could include school records, insurance policies, vehicle or boat title or registration, Social Security cards, pilot’s licenses or marriage licenses. They also need to bring a valid voter registration card.These cards are good for six years. Cards issued to Texans 70 years old and older have no expiration dates, according to the DPS.Anyone voting by mail does not have to submit a photo ID. Anyone with a documented disability may apply at their county voter registrar for a permanent exemption from the requirement, election officials say.And anyone showing up at the polls to vote who doesn’t have a photo ID is given a chance to go home and bring their ID back. If they don’t, they may cast a provisional ballot. But to make sure that vote is counted, they’ll have to take a valid photo ID to the elections office within six days after the election. If they don’t, the ballot will not be counted, Raborn said.Early voting for the November election starts Oct. 21.
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley