Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry wants to make sure voters take one thing to the polls: Photo ID.
Berry is traveling around the state, trying to get the word out — before early voting in the March 4 primary elections begins next week — to prevent any problems that might arise at the polls.
“There’s a primary … and we want to get people ready for the election,” Berry, who was sworn into office last month, said Wednesday. “We want to leave no stone unturned.
“We are trying to get the message out that there is a photo ID requirement.”
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This is the second, and largest, statewide election since the state’s voter ID law went into effect last year. The law requires voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls.
On this year’s ballot are races ranging from the U.S. Senate and Texas governor to justice of the peace and county courts at law. Early voting runs from Tuesday through Feb. 28.
Last year, some concerns arose about voters names not identically matching on a person’s voter registration card and photo ID.
Those people will be allowed to sign an affidavit stating they are the same person if the versions of names are “substantially similar.”
“The biggest problem might have been misinformation and confusion,” Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said, adding that some people thought a woman might need a marriage license or divorce decree to show why a name changed.
But that isn’t the case. Those people just need to sign the affidavit.
“It really wasn’t a big deal,” he said.
Nonetheless, Berry is spending three weeks traveling around the state, talking to election officials and voters, trying to make sure people know to bring photo IDs to the polls. She made a stop in Fort Worth Wednesday.
And she is encouraging Texans to vote during the early voting period so they will have plenty of time to address any problem that might arise.
“We are trying to raise voter awareness,” she said.
Acceptable IDs include a driver’s license, a state-issued personal ID card, concealed handgun license, military ID card, citizenship certificate with photo or a passport. Any license that’s expired must not be expired for more than 60 days.
Anyone who doesn’t have one of the acceptable forms of ID may get a free election identification certificate at a driver’s license office.
Anyone who shows up at the polls to vote without a photo ID will be given a chance to go home and bring the 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 of the election. Otherwise the ballot will not be counted.
Texas lawmakers approved the voter ID measure in 2011, but it didn’t go into effect in Texas elections until last year. Voter turnout this year is expected to be much greater.