Hey, Texplainer: When I show up to the polls to vote, do I need my photo ID?
If you’re confused about what ID to bring to the polls, it’s no wonder; Legal wrangling over the state’s requirements this year has turned rather complicated.
Here's where things stand: In July, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ voter ID law discriminated against minority groups and ordered a district court judge to draw up a temporary fix for the November election.
Broadly, the remedy splits Texas voters into two groups: those that have one of the types of photo IDs that meet the parameters of the original law and those that don't.
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Those who have a qualifying photo ID must show it in order to vote in this year's general elections.
Here are the seven types of photo ID accepted under the original law:
- State drivers 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 license to carry a handgun (issued by DPS)
- U.S. military ID card that includes a personal photo
- U.S. citizenship certificate that includes a personal photo
- U.S. passport
Voters who do not have any of those documents and cannot “reasonably obtain” them can still cast a vote if they sign a form in which they swear that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining appropriate identification. Those voters will also have to present one of the following types of ID:
- Valid voter registration certificate
- Certified birth certificate
- Copy or original of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other document that shows the voter’s name and address (any government document that contains a voter’s photo must be an original)
Also of note: Election judges may not question a voter about the reasonableness of a claimed impediment.
Bottom line: If you have qualifying photo ID, bring it. But if you have not obtained one, you can still cast a ballot using other forms of ID.
Here’s what you need to know about voting in Texas this year:
- What are the rules for Texas poll watchers? We explain.
- The voting-age population figure being used by the Texas secretary of state's office to calculate registration and turnout percentages may be off the mark.
- A record 15.1 million Texans have registered to vote in the November election — a number that eclipses the preliminary estimate by more than 85,000.
- Texas ranked eighth-to-last in voter turnout for the presidential primaries