Don’t be all rattled about voter ID

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Tuesday’s constitutional amendment election is the first statewide election that requires Texans to present a photo ID when they vote in person.

There is some bad information brewing about what you may or may not need at the polls, specifically that the name on your approved ID and the name on your voter registration must match exactly.

When it comes to voting, Texans need the facts, and the fact is that as long as your ID name and registration name are substantially similar, you will be able to vote a regular ballot, period.

All you have to do is initial a box to confirm you are in fact the same person.

You will not be flagged for voter fraud, you will not have to vote a provisional ballot and you will not have to undergo a long process before you can cast your ballot.

Your ballot will be counted in exactly the same way as the ballots of other voters.

Poll workers may give you the opportunity to update your registration so it will match your ID for future elections. This step is not required and is offered simply as a matter of convenience.

What does “substantially similar” mean? It means that your names might not match because of a missing suffix like Jr. or Sr. It includes the use of a nickname instead of a full name, and it includes changes of name due to marriage or divorce.

Poll workers across the state have been trained to account for such differences in ID and registration, and this training is working. During early voting, more than 200,000 ballots were cast, and my office has received no reports of any voter having to cast a provisional ballot because his or her ID name and registration name did not exactly match.

Poll workers will look for additional details such as if the birth dates match or if the addresses are the same.

Remember, although it was not previously required, many Texans have voted using their photo ID for many years without problems.

Also, please note it is not necessary for you to bring any additional information to the polls beyond your approved photo ID. You do not need to bring a birth certificate, marriage license or divorce decree to vote.

Some voters choose to bring their voter registration card, but it is not required.

There are seven forms of approved photo ID for voting in person.

Four are issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety: a driver license, personal ID card, concealed handgun license or an Election Identification Certificate (EIC). The other three forms are a U.S. passport, citizenship certificate with your photo, or a military ID with your photo.

EICs are available without charge from the Department of Public Safety for voters who do not have one of the six other forms of ID.

If you have any questions about photo ID requirements or voting in general, visit VoteTexas.gov or contact your county election official. Don’t let misinformation keep you from the polls.

John Steen is the Texas Secretary of State. secretary@sos.state.tx.us

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